Vurciaga prevails in his wrestling finale

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Education takes center stage for two-time state runner-up

By Steve Smith

ALAMOSA ­— Fort Lupton’s D.J. Vurciaga won his wrestling match at the Colorado High School Coaches Association all-state games June 14. He pinned Mark Espinosa Jr. of Pueblo South at 182 pounds at Adams State University.


It was Vurciaga’s first competition in more than two months. No wonder he allowed as how he felt like a “dead fish.”


“I haven’t been on a mat for a while, so it’s hard for me to catch my breath,” Vurciaga said. “It’s tough. He was slowing the pace, too. We had each other, doing the same thing. At the end, I saved a little by stalling. I was lucky to get him on his back.”

Vurciaga was among 28 athletes who participated in the wrestling event at Peachy Hall.

“I got to spend it with the best athletes in Colorado. You can’t ask for better than that,” he said. “We had volleyball in here. We had our guys battling on the football field. It was different for me. I didn’t see any city lights. It was pretty quiet.”

The CHSCA votes on the athletes to participate in the all-state games.

“Coming down here, we didn’t know what team we were going to be on,” Vurciaga said. “They went off our weight. One of our 182-pounders went up to 195. I stayed down. It was fun. In the practice room, we were all dead fish after an hour.”

Vurciaga won’t continue athletic pursuits in college, though he left the door open for mixed martial arts later on. For now, he’s going to Front Range Community College to begin the process of becoming a teacher and a coach.

“I went to senior nationals and lost my all-American match for the second year in a row. It was a heart-breaker,” he said. “I talked to my family and my coaches. They support me doing this for the rest of my life.

“Last year was the first time in a long time that (coach Tommy) Galicia hadn’t brought one of us here to wrestle,” Vurciaga added. “I had to finish this last one off to give Tommy some recognition. He did a helluva job coaching me the past few years. We came down here to have some fun. I had a blast. It was worthwhile. I had a good career. I went out with a good one, huh?”


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