After beating Northridge junior Juan Lopez (27-8) in the quarterfinals match of the Colorado State High School Wrestling Meet Friday afternoon, Summit's Nick Wittrock entered his semifinals match against defending state champion AJ Rees, a senior at Discovery Canyon, that same night.
Rees made quick work of a pin, putting Wittrock on his heels and then on his back several times during the contest before finally keeping him on the mat 2 minutes, 45 seconds into the match. It's the second pin Rees has tallied so far in his three matches at the state tournament. He will take on Pueblo South junior Marcus Martinez (37-7) for the championship title Saturday night.
"I knew the kid was tough, I just didn't realize he was going to be that tough," Tigers' head coach Pete Baker said. "(Nick) is bummed out. ... You could see it in his face. But I told him, 'He's a senior, he's a returning sstate champion, and he's good.' (Nick) lightened up a little bit. I said, 'Don't let this be the one that deteriorates you and makes you not wrestle to where you don't get anything better than sixth. You can still be third in state - and that's awesome.'"
Baker said Wittrock flashed his smile, and hopes that means he'll come back today for redemption.
Wittrock has another year to make his way into the championship round, too. And in the meantime, he has the chance to beat opponents who have shown him up both last year and this year.
Earlier Friday, Wittrock beat Lopez by decision in a 3-2 victory.
"Nick is wrestling so smart, he's doing all the work," Baker said Friday afternoon. "It might be 3-2, but the two points Lopez got, Nick gave them to him. ... Really high-level wrestling is 3-2, but one person is dominating the most of the time."
The two went 0-0 in the first period, but the Wittrock had a takedown in the second round. Lopez earned his points when he escaped Wittrock's hold. In the third period, Wittrock chose to start down and earned escape points by getting the standup.
"He just wrestled so intelligently," Baker said.