Windsor High School (Colo.) wrestlers Will VomBaur, Dominick Serrano and Isaiah Salazar didn’t know they were making history.
They were each just trying to win their third state wrestling titles Feb. 23 at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
When all three did, they became the first trio of Colorado high school wrestlers ever to win their third state championships on the same team in the same year.
“I didn’t know that it hadn’t been done before,” VomBaur said. “I didn’t think much about it. I just thought it was cool that we had three, three-time champions.”
Coach Monte Trusty knew “it was something special” at the time but didn’t realize how special until he began to research it the following Monday. Tim Yount, who has compiled Colorado’s On The Mat high school wrestling rankings for 25 years, called it simply “amazing.”
There just aren’t that many three-time state champions, period, and only three times before had two wrestlers on the same team won their third state titles in the same year: Grand Junction’s Clarence Terrill and Oliver Hayashi in 1940, Holly’s Brad Barth and Lonnie Seufer in 1973 and Burlington’s Doug Thompson and Daryl Monasmith in 1974.
“It’s just awesome to share that moment with each other, knowing them for so long,” Serrano said. “We’ve all known what goals we wanted, and to see them accomplish great things, as well as myself, there aren’t many words to describe it.”
How do you describe something that’s never been done before? At least not in Colorado, according to records kept by the Colorado High School Activities Association that date back to 1936. Editors with Wrestling USA magazine told Trusty that Windsor’s rare trifecta has probably been done in some state, at some point. But they didn’t have any records showing it.
“That’s Colorado history right there, and it could stick for a long time,” Trusty said.
VomBaur, a senior who will wrestle at the Air Force Academy next year, went 45-2 this year with one of his losses in an out-of-state tournament. He pinned three of his four opponents in the state tournament, winning his Class 4A final at 120 pounds with 20 seconds remaining in the third and final round. VomBaur, whose father, Ben, runs the Bear Cave Wrestlers club program, won state Class 4A titles at 106 pounds as a freshman and at 113 pounds as a junior.
Had it not been for a 3-2 loss to Pueblo County’s Josiah Nava in the 113-pound semifinals of the 2017 state championships, VomBaur, who went on to win his third-place match, might have become one of only 24 four-time Colorado state champions.
Serrano and Salazar, both juniors this year, hope to join that exclusive club next year. If both are able to do so, they would again make history as the first set of teammates to win their fourth Colorado state wrestling titles in the same season.
“It’d be awesome. That would be the hope,” Salazar said.
Serrano went 46-0 this year to remain unbeaten in 139 career matches as a high school wrestler, winning the Class 4A title at 132 pounds on a 15-5 major decision. Serrano, who has verbally committed to wrestle in college at Nebraska, was Colorado’s Class 4A champion at 126 pounds in 2018 and 120 pounds in 2017.
Salazar went 47-0 this year, capping his season with a 10-0 major decision in the Class 4A state title match at 182 pounds after pinning his first two opponents at the state championships and winning his semifinal match on a technical fall in the second round. Salazar, who has college scholarship offers from Minnesota, Air Force and Northern Colorado, was Colorado’s Class 3A state champion at 152 pounds in 2017 while wrestling for Eaton and the 4A state champion at 170 pounds last year for Windsor.
Each wrestler has his own unique style.
VomBaur’s hands and feet never stop moving, Yount said. He’s always working a move and ready to pounce when he sees an opening.
Serrano loves to put on a show, wrestling his best under the bright lights and big crowds of state tournaments.
“That kid flat-out performs,” Yount said. “He’s so comfortable with thousands of people watching. When he’s at regionals and he’s at state, no one is going to beat this kid or even get close to him.”
Salazar has made the biggest improvement of the three year over year, Yount said, surprised to learn that he also plays football and baseball for Windsor and runs sprints on the school’s track and field team.
“Because he’s so good, I was thinking he’s a pure wrestler,” Yount said.
What all three have in common, though, is a Windsor program that pushes them to greatness.
Trusty, they said, runs his practices like a college program.
“His goal is to work us harder than anybody in the state, to train our minds to handle the kind of pressure that winning a state title demands.” VomBaur said. “He makes the champions.”
Other than an occasional drink of water, wrestlers are always on the move in practice, working drills at full speed, wrestling live matches or running, doing push-ups or other exercises designed to increase both their strength and stamina.
“I think we’re better conditioned than a lot of teams,” Salazar said. “We have the endurance to go, like, beyond overtime, if there is such a thing.”
There aren’t many easy matches for the Wizards, either. Trusty not only enters them in the top tournaments in Colorado each year, but he also takes them to the Rapid City Invitational in South Dakota and brings some of Wyoming’s top teams to tournaments at Windsor.
The more different styles of opponents his wrestlers can see during the course of a season, the better, he said.
They have strong practice partners, too.
VomBaur and Serrano, who both wrestle in national tournaments outside of the high school season, are workout partners, and Salazar usually practices against Cody Eaton, who was the state runner-up at 170 pounds; Tristan Perez, who finished fourth at 160; and Tyler Grasmick, who was sixth at 195.
The Wizards have talented wrestlers across the board. Every year, in every weight class. They’ve won three Class 4A team titles in the past nine years.
“Monte is, without question, one of the best coaches in the state of Colorado,” Yount said. “He understands, because he’s won state titles, what it takes to get kids ready in the room, and his system works. You win state titles in the practice room, don’t care what anybody says. Wrestling is one of those sports where the harder you work outside of the events themselves, the better you’re going to be when you get into those matches.”
It would be hard to be much better than VomBaur, Serrano and Salazar were this season. Two never lost a match, and the third lost only twice.
All three finished the season as three-time state champions, staking their spot in the state’s wrestling record book as the first three teammates to ever accomplish that feat in the same season.
“The goal from the beginning was to go take care of ourselves first,” Salazar said. “If we can, help our team out. But honestly, we never really talked about it too much until after.
“It was awesome to have three, three-time state champions in the same year on the same team.”