As Heights wrestling coach Mike Church watched his team being crowned champion of the City League for the third consecutive season, he couldn't help but look back on what his program was not too long ago.
"Once the ball started rolling, everything started to snowball," Church said. "Tradition started to take over and now they are winning duals by 50 points and league tournaments by 40 points."
The Falcons won the City League tournament Saturday night by 45 points over Kapaun Mount Carmel and had six individual champions and five more second-place finishes.
Heights' turnaround can be attributed to a group of seniors that have gone from third place and seemingly so far away from powerhouse Bishop Carroll as freshmen, to now a team with a 24-dual winning streak in the City League.
Daniel Deshazer, Trey Schrimscher, Dominique Henderson, Hunter Jameson, Justin Reynolds and Khary Jones are a combined 137-60 this season and have the Falcons on the cusp of their first state championship since 1976.
"To see where this group of kids came from to where they are now is amazing," Church said. "I'm truly blessed to be able to coach them."
Despite dealing with an injured shoulder, Deshazer pinned Bryce Stiles from West 1 minute, 45 seconds into the match at 125 pounds. It took four overtimes, but Schrimscher recorded a takedown late in the seventh period to beat South's Devin Webber at 140. Then Jameson recorded a major decision (14-3) over Caleb Franklin of North at 189.
"It's incredible to see where we have come from," Jameson said. "I do believe our work ethic is the reason why we are where we are and that goes back to Coach Church and what he has done."
Behind the senior class is perhaps an even more talented junior class, featuring the other Deshazer, Ulyesses, and Matt Reed, both of whom won their divisions. Throw in freshman Greg Jones, who pinned Mikey Lindlar from Northwest at 112, and what Heights has done the past three years could just be the beginning.
"We are all real confident that every time out we are going to win," Ulyesses Deshazer said. "In my opinion, our chemistry is better than in the past and that's what makes this team better than the ones before."
For Church, it was a process, albeit a fast one. From Day 1, he intended on changing the thought process in the program. And now, he has the top-ranked team in Class 6A heading into the postseason.
"This group of seniors bought in four years ago and became coachable," Church said. "Now they are out to take care of business."
Heights 259.5, Kapaun 214.5, Northwest 179, South 105, Carroll 100, Southeast 64, North 63.5, East 62.5, West 54.
103—1. Howell, KMC, pinned Alberts, NW, 1:35; 3. Sanchez, W, def. Phillips, SE, 10-5. 112— 1. Jones, H, pinned Lindlar, NW, 2:32; 3. Suhr, KMC, def. Sandoval, N, 13-4. 119— 1. Johnson. SE, def. Neal, H, 5-4; 3. Mills, KMC, def. Santiago, BC, 5-0. 125— 1. Dryden, KMC, def. Newton, H, 18-6; 3. Augustin, E, def. Hill, W, 7-4. 130— 1. D. Deshazer, H, pinned Stiles, W, 1:45; 3. Chavez, E, def. Sponsel, BC, 2-1 OT. 135— 1. Maki, KMC, def. Hill, H, 7-3; 3. Ziegler, BC, pinned Davis, SE, 3:17. 140— 1. Schrimscher, H, def. Webber, S, 3-1 4OT; 3. Mills, KMC, def. Perez, NW, 5-4. 145— 1. Dugan, BC, pinned Gaither, NW, 3:16; 3. Collins, S, pinned Regular, H, 2:53. 152— 1. U. Deshazer, H, def. Malache, NW, 9-2; 3. Sperle, BC, def. Schultz, KMC, 5-4. 160— 1. Reed, H, pinned McDonough, KMC, 1:32; 3. Tipton, S, pinned Snapp, E, 4:19. 171— 1. Penka, KMC, def. Henderson, H, 9-2; 3. Hamelton, NW, def. Payne, S, 5-4. 189— 1. Jameson, H, def. Franklin, N, 14-3; 3. Terrell, NW, def. Jenkins, BC, 9-7. 215— 1. Bean, KMC, pinned Keller, NW, 5:16; 3. Adams, S, pinned Nelson, N, 2:40. 285— 1. Griffen, NW, pinned Jones, H, 1:04; 3. Young, S, pinned Nelson, E, 5:01.