Redemption, then heartbreak for Jefferson wrestling at Pepsi Center

Dennis Pleuss
Jeffco Public Schools
Posted 2/25/20

DENVER — Jefferson senior Jimmy Ramirez III celebrated like he had just won his first individual wrestling state title Feb. 22 at Pepsi Center. “It meant a lot to be back here and having another …

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Redemption, then heartbreak for Jefferson wrestling at Pepsi Center

Posted

DENVER — Jefferson senior Jimmy Ramirez III celebrated like he had just won his first individual wrestling state title Feb. 22 at Pepsi Center.

“It meant a lot to be back here and having another chance to compete,” Ramirez said moments after he pinned Berthoud senior Dalton Williams 42 seconds into the third-place match at Saturday afternoon in the Class 3A state place matches. “It really taught me that wrestling is a privilege. You have to fight every second you are out there.”

It has been a long road with several detours for Ramirez, who was billed as one of the top wrestlers in the state a few years ago.

As a freshman, Ramirez placed second at 120 pounds at the 3A state tournament to finish his first year of high school wrestling with a 43-5 record. The future was bright for Ramirez and being a multiple state champion appeared to be in the cards.

“There has definitely been ups and downs,” Ramirez said. “I just kept it in mind what kind of person I am and that I have to push through. It’s not easy. Not everyone can do it. I’m one of a kind.”

Ramirez suffered right knee injuries early during the wrestling season as a sophomore and junior. He had damage to three of the four major knee ligaments his sophomore season. While his injury his junior year wasn’t as serious, it required another season-ending surgery.

“It taught me a greater lesson that I feel like winning state titles couldn’t teach you,” Ramirez said about what he has been though over the past three years. “It has really humbled me and taught me that life owes you nothing. You have to go out there and take it.”

What Ramirez took and earned this season with a 33-3 record, including a 4-1 record at the state tournament. He nearly advanced to the champion bouts Saturday night, but a 4-2 loss to Florence senior Johnny Masopust kept Ramirez from getting a shot at that state title that seemed well within reach early in his career.

“He (Ramirez) has put in a lot of work. He has just had some bad breaks,” Jefferson coach Oscar Fonseca said. “I’m just glad he was here. He’s a little banged up, but he made it to the state tournament and that’s what I’m happy about.”

Ramirez is headed to Colorado State University-Pueblo to continue his academic career and also plans to wrestle for the ThunderWolves.

“I’ll peak in college and have a great, successful college career,” Ramirez said. “Without injuries, hopefully.”

Jefferson sophomore Angelo Lozado did finish atop the podium for the second straight year. The 113-pounder defeated Alamosa junior Davon Chavez 6-1 in the championship match to become a two-time state champion.

Lozado became the Saints first multiple state wrestling champion since Kyle Cisneros won back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017.

“Working hard and getting to those early morning practices helped a lot,” said Lozado who added his wasn’t as nervous in his second straight state champion final.

Jefferson took a slim lead over Eaton and Valley in the 3A team standings after Lozado’s win. The Saints were within reach of winning the school’s first team state title since Jefferson’s baseball won state back in 1968.

“We are in a dogfight,” Fonseca said before the championship finals. “We are trying our hardest and that’s all I could ask of my kids.”

Seniors Zander Condit (145 pounds) and Nick Gallegos (152) still had their championship matches ahead for the Saints, but then the unthinkable happened.

Condit held a 9-3 lead late in the third period against Eaton sophomore Ryan Dirksen. However, Dirksen was able to get a 2-point reversal in the final seconds and had 3 near-fall points. It appeared Condit would still take a 9-8 victory, but the referee gave Dirksen the pin as time expired.

Fonseca argued that time had expired before the pin. The three officials on the mat conferred with the scoring table and then huddled. The head referee stayed with his call of a pin and raised Dirksen’s arm.

The pin gave Eaton six team points to leap over Jefferson.

With the shock of Condit’s loss fresh, Gallegos struggled in his title bout against Pagosa Springs junior Cameron Lucero. Gallegos, who was trying to defend his 152-pound title, suffered a 2-0 loss.

Valley also leaped over Jefferson in the team standings with a major-decision victories by Isaiah Rios (138) and Jaziah Whaley (160). Eaton and Valley finished tied for the team title with 105.5 points. It was the first shared team state title since 1992.

Jefferson finished third with 101 points. Ramirez’s words were perhaps the best to put the heartbreak in perspective.

“We had big expectations for everybody,” Ramirez said. “I still love them. They are still my brothers. We are still a young team and have some good young guys. Having Oscar as your coach is the best thing you can have.”

Dennis Pleuss is a media specialist for Jeffco Public Schools with a focus on athletics and activities. For more Jeffco coverage, go online at CHSAANow.com

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