DENVER – Standing on the podium at the state wrestling tournament is nothing new to Arvada West’s Cody Fatzinger.
In each of the previous three seasons, the Wildcats standout has earned a medal, and come Saturday night he will claim a fourth. But for all the success Fatzinger has enjoyed with Arvada West – including being a member of two Class 5A team championships – he has never had the chance to enjoy standing on top of the podium and hearing his name announced as a state champ.
That’s why Fatzinger’s hard-fought 5-1 decision Friday night in the 5A 126-pound semifinals at Pepsi Center meant so much to the senior. It punched Fatzinger’s ticket to Saturday’s championship finals for the second time, and gives him the opportunity to go out with that elusive individual title.
“It’s everything I’ve trained for,” Fatzinger said. “Tomorrow’s the night – it all comes down to six minutes.”
Fatzinger will face Poudre sophomore Job Greenwood on Saturday in the finals at 126. It will be a rematch of last week’s regional championship. Greenwood edged Fatzinger by one point in that contest, and defeated Grand Junction’s Tyren Castonguay 10-1 on Saturday in the semifinals.
Greenwood placed fourth as a freshman at 120 pounds.
“That would be a dream come true for him if he wins it (Saturday) night,” A-West coach Ron Granieri said of Fatzinger. “It would be a huge accomplishment for him.”
Facing top-seeded Cole Polluconi of Monarch, who took second a year ago at 132 pounds, Fatzinger patiently waited for his opportunity in the semis. He got it in the second period – after a Polluconi escape, Fatzinger scored a takedown to take the lead. He added an escape of his own early in the third period, and after Polluconi hooked his leg late in the match, managed to turn it into another takedown.
“He’s too strong and he stays in a good position,” Fatzinger said. “But I have a training buddy back in Arvada that’s the same build as him – short, stocky and strong.”
“He wrestled a heck of a match,” Granieri added. “No mistakes, just flawless.”
As a freshman, Fatzinger’s first state tournament got off to a rough start with a first-round loss at 106 pounds. He showed incredible resolve though by taking five consecutive placing matches, finishing third with a victory over Mountain Range’s Louie Romero.
His sophomore season he won his first three matches at state – including another victory over Romero – to advance to the 113-pound finals before falling 6-4 to Pomona’s Tomas Gutierrez.
That advantage over Romero ran out a year ago in the semifinals as the Mountain Range standout posted a 3-1 decision. Fatzinger again responded with a pair of consolation victories to place third.
“He’s placed at state all four years of his high school career, and that’s something a lot of people don’t do,” Granieri said. “His record down here is pretty good.”
Granieri said he believes that Fatzinger signing early to wrestle at Western State Colorado University took some of the pressure off this season. The confidence has been there throughout, including a title in a 70-team tournament at Boise State in Idaho.
Now all that remains is one final match in purple and white, and one final step onto the podium.
“He’s a lot more relaxed than he’s been in the past,” Granieri said. “He’s been to the big show four times, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow night.”