With last week bringing us national signing day for many Colorado athletes, I thought these 5 Colorado wrestlers could shed some light about the transition from H.S. wrestling to College wrestling. It is a tough transition for many wrestlers to make. Red shirting your first year can give you many opportunities to grow in strength and skills. For others, winning wrestle offs and avoiding injury can lead you to a spot on Varsity. These wrestlers chose to stay close to home and I’ve had the pleasure to watch them grow as young men and fulfill their dreams of being a college wrestler.
Patrick Allis – 2x State Champion 2018-19, State finalist, State placer H.S. Discovery Canyon Colorado Springs Co.
Western Colorado University- Freshman 125 lbs.
Patrick is currently ranked #4 in the NCAA Dll Individual rankings on “The Open Mat”. If you followed Allis in High School, you would know his path was not always easy. During his senior year he suffered the loss of a good friend Kaden Currier and through strength and love things fell into place and Patrick left the Pepsi Center one final time, a 2x State Champion. Patrick has flourished as a student athlete in college and excelled on the mat under the assistant coaching staff and Head Coach Charlie Pipher. The biggest challenges Allis says he faces are the strength of each wrestler, every wrestler is good and technically sound. “There are no easy matches in college”. Allis says. The draw to Western Co. University for Patrick was being close to home and the fact that the coaches and the wrestling room felt like a second home the minute he entered the program. One of the best things Patrick says about his teammates and choice of college is, they all love fishing and the outdoor life and they’re in the perfect spot to enjoy those opportunities when they have a little free time.
Dominic Robles- 2019 State Champion, 2x Finalist H.S. East Pueblo Co.
CSU-Pueblo University- Freshman 184 lbs.
Robles success in high school and his passion for wrestling convinced him that he wanted to wrestle at the next level. It was never really a question for Robles as to where he wanted to go, he knew he wanted to stay close to home and the decision to wrestle for CSU- Pueblo was made at the start of his senior year in high school. He’s learning a lot about himself as he rises to the challenges of wrestling in college. Wrestling at a lower weight, improving his skills and learning to believe in his abilities a little more has been a key step as a redshirt for CSU-Pueblo. He wasn’t shy in stating that it sucks not being a starter and it has definitely humbled him. Robles says “It’s a whole different world when you are walking the halls of high school and people know you are a high ranked wrestler on a State title team, then you move on to college and you realize you’re not entitled to anything”. You cheer on your teammates and work hard for the next season. He’s studying Mass communications, coaching youth wrestling and improving in the classroom which is a key step to becoming a successful college student athlete.
Cody Fatzinger-2017 State Champion, 3x state placer H.S. Arvada West Arvada Co.
Western Colorado University –Sophomore 133lbs.
Cody is currently ranked #13 on “The Open Mat”. He attended Arvada West high school where he was instrumental in helping Arvada West win back to back 5A State team titles. He definitely agrees with the rest of his college teammates that everyone in college is tougher. Cody says, “You’re basically wrestling grown men from the minute you start in the program. You can’t muscle your way through matches anymore like you used to sometimes be able to do in high school”. Cody attended camps at Western when he was growing up and had the opportunity to meet the coaches and knew that he wanted to attend Western at the get go. He appreciates that the coaches participate with the wrestlers and never shy away from getting directly on the mat with you.
Zion Freeman- 2019 State Champion 2018 State finalist, 4x State placer 2019 Undefeated season H.S. East Pueblo Co.
CSU-Pueblo University- Freshman 197 lbs.
Zion Freeman’s college wrestling season did not start off exactly like he wanted it to. He participated in the All State tournament during the summer before starting college and suffered an injury. Zion ended up breaking his radius and ulna thus putting his college career on hold. In Freeman style that many of us have witnessed in his high school career, that injury did not stop him from dedicating his time mentally and physically to healing and returning to the mat. It was brought to my attention by Robles and Freeman that CSU-Pueblo has a mental training session every week. Last week’s session was on motivation and how to mentally get motivated and improve situations. Zion says he used a lot of mental training while he was recovering and allowed himself to use that in preparation for getting back on the mat. Zion is red shirting this year and returned to the mat a few weeks ago. He still has steel plates in his arm and hopes to have those removed in the near future. He’s still feeling a little frustration in not trusting his arm during a match but he says that’s his subconscious taking over and he’s working on that. He’s truly an inspiration to the word dedication and perseverance. I asked if he had any advice for anyone facing the same situation and his reply was, ”Don’t let it get you down, work harder to get back to where you were and once you are ready to go, you have to remember you are healed and overcome the injury being in the back of your mind and just keep moving forward”.
Espen Weber- Columbine High School Littleton Co.
Western Colorado University- Freshman 174 lbs.
Weber was a walk on for Western Colorado University and when asked to step in at 197 lbs. for injured wrestler Chris Davis, that’s exactly what he did. Wrestling up in weight can be a challenge but in these types of situations you definitely want that teammate who can step in and help the team all around. Espen says he really appreciates that he wasn’t treated any different coming in as a walk on and his coaches were truly genuine in welcoming him into the program. He’s had some wins and some losses moving into that higher weight but supporting his team is most important to Weber and he’ll do what he needs to do to offer that support. He never had the opportunity to place in high school at the State tournaments but wrestling is something he loved and wanted to continue to pursue at a higher level. Weber’s story is one of many related to high school wrestlers. They don’t see all the glory during their high school seasons but giving up on their dreams of wrestling in college is not an option and pursuing that can lead to great opportunities.
Melanie Johnson- MileHigh Prep Report