Thomas Jefferson

High School | Home of the Spartans

Pinned by Tough Luck

Posted 02/26/2009 by Vince Crespin

Historic season for wrestling comes to an end with four State qualifiers and a State placer.


TJ Wrestling has come to an end in 2009, but the future looks bright for the Spartans. photo by Kevin Fleming

For only the second time in its history, the TJ Wrestling Squad brought home a city championship, and capped off its 2009 campaign with some tough matches, but held their own at Colorado’s highest level.

Boris (Tubic) and Matt (Francis) had some pretty tough draws. Both of them faced some kids that are in the top five of the state, regardless of the classification. Both did well, I was proud of them. Chris (Salazar) fought hard but it just wasn’t his day in the end, and Cody (DeLaBarre) wrestled the exact way we taught him. That’s why he placed, and that’s why he should have a good chance going into next year,” said Head Coach Mike Laurita on his quartet of state qualifiers.

“It’s a different atmosphere at State; the lights are brighter and the fans are louder.  Some kids freeze up and some kids rise to the occasion. As a team I am kind of disappointed we didn’t send more kids to state, but it is what it is. The season in general was OK. We met one of three of our big team goals. We did win city, which was a nice accomplishment. However we did want to send more kids to State than last year, but instead we went down from seven to four, so that was a bit disappointing. The final one was that we wanted to be in the top ten of the state. We finished 17th at the end of the state finals, out of 51 teams. We fell short but we did go up from last year when we placed 21st,” said Laurita. Although he is disappointed, Laurita’s team competed in one of the toughest regions in the state.

Tubic, who leaves TJ as third all time in career wins with 91 since his freshman year, went 2-2 at state, falling just one match short of placing in his weight class. “I was disappointed but I just lost some matches I should have won. Wrestling was just a lot of fun and I’m glad I did it,” said the senior, who also retires as the all-time program leader in take downs.

“Boris was a kid who came in and knew nothing about wrestling; he was dedicated and he deserves his spot among our program’s top wrestlers,” said his now former coach Laurita.

Francis, now the fifth in career wins at 85, drew some of the toughest competitors in recent memory. Winning his first round match, he then took on the number one seed who was undefeated and placed third at state. “Matt was another kid who never really wrestled coming into high school, but did what he had to do to compete. He was a leader and progressed a lot in his time with us. I know he was disappointed not placing because his junior year he got sixth in state. But this year he faced much tougher competition, so he has no reason to hang his head down,” commented Laurita.

DeLaBarre, in his first year with the TJ Wrestling team, had a memorable year. With a record of 23-4 he stepped up in a tough weight class and did well at State. “There’s not much I can say about Cody other than that he did what he had to do to win. He wrestled the way we taught him and fought hard. We were in a tough region, so for him to make it to State in his first year of varsity wrestling was a good accomplishment on his part,” said Laurita.

Salazar, the fourth wrestler who made it to State, went into the Pepsi Center with some high hopes, but ones that never materialized. “He had a tough bracket as well, but things just weren’t happening for him. He wasn’t able to produce points and that’s what got him in trouble,” stated Laurita. Although Salazar fell short at the state level he was able to accomplish quite a feat in his time at TJ. Salazar was able to amass a total of 99 career victories on the varsity squad, putting him as number one on the all time wins list at TJ, five above previous record holder Michael Hawkins.

With 18 wrestlers having some form of varsity experience returning next year, the team looks strong and poised for another DPL crown. As a team that posted a record of 14-5 and a 17th place finish in 4A, the TJ wrestlers seem to be on the verge of a top-tier finish among the state’s elite wrestling programs.