Record year for Vista on 5A mats

Posted 2/22/09

Scott Kaniewski A year ago the Mountain Vista High School wrestling team was getting its bearings. A new coach and a new style had the Golden Eagles …

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Record year for Vista on 5A mats


Scott Kaniewski

A year ago the Mountain Vista High School wrestling team was getting its bearings. A new coach and a new style had the Golden Eagles learning. A year later four Golden Eagles worked their way into the Class 5A state tournament.

Matt Conahan, Dalton Breen-Martin, Gabe Smith and Taylor Gutierrez all earned spots in the tournament. Conahan, Breen-Martin and Smith all earned victories in the consolation bracket.

“I’m happy with that win,” Conahan said after defeating Keith Beauvais of Centaurus for his first state victory. “That kid was a good freestyle wrestler.”

Conahan showed he belonged among the better wrestlers in the state, falling to quarterfinalist Justin Frazier in the first round, a reversal in the final 30 seconds the difference.

During the course of the season, the Golden Eagles set a number of school wrestling records: among them best record for a season at 18-5, most points [1,073] and most number of wrestlers to place at regionals [eight]. It was also the first time the team had wrestlers pull down victories at state, second-year coach Frank LaVoie said.

“We broke every single record we set last year,” Conahan said.

He attributed the team’s success directly to LaVoie. The transition to his style took the team a year of getting used to. But by the 2008-09 season, the system transitioned to victories.

“I definitely feel like we matured,” Conahan said. “Last year, we were still trying to get our coach’s system down. The next year we made it the backbone, we got it into our heads.”

LaVoie was disappointed that none of the four placed at state, but the fact that three qualifiers won for the first time at the state tournament had him excited.

“I’m really proud of the guys we had at the state championships,” LaVoie said. “We still want an all-stater one day.

“We improved by leaps and bounds and took the system and did what we wanted them to do. To do what we did in two years is pretty amazing. I’m excited to think about what we can do in four or six years.”

Heavyweight Gutierrez finished the season with a record of 26-14. LaVoie said the junior only lost to seniors during the year.

“He’s going to go forward and we’ll look for him to lead the team in ability and wins,” LaVoie said. “He’ll be a top returner in heavyweights.”

Conahan finished 20-9.

“We had all the tools this year,” Conahan said. “Just some calls didn’t go our way.”

No regrets, no mercy, just wrestle. That was the Golden Eagles motto this season, Conahan said. The fact that he and his three teammates made it to the state tournament put things into perspective.

“No regrets,” Conahan said. “This is my final year.”

Smith [189 pounds] earned his 30th win with a pin against Arapahoe’s Kyle Harpster. Smith finished 30-12 on the season. Breen-Martin finished 29-14 at 160 pounds.

Said LaVoie: “It was the best season in school history by all standards.”

Highlands Ranch’s lone state qualifier, Michael Purcell, won his opening bout but dropped his quarterfinal match against Zach Rosales of Grand Junction-Central.

Purcell defeated Anthony Martin of Fruita-Monument in his opening heavyweight bout.

He dropped his final bout to Fountain-Fort Carson wrestler Chris Ellis. Purcell finished with a record of 34-4.


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