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2-18 Winter Roundup

By Neil H. Devlin, Mullen Sports Information Director
'Stangs, still in the team chase, send 3 to the 3A finals; girls basketball wins 5th in a row and completes regular season; boys hoops gets key victory to stay within postseason race.
It was a rousing Friday night, as usual, of semifinals wrestling at Ball Arena and Mullen rolled with the best of them.

The Mustangs sent three competitors into Saturday’s Class 3A finals, two others to placing rounds and remained in the team chase for their first championship.

Dale O’Blia (106 pounds), Noah Linares (132) and Kaleb Valdez-Lemos led the Mullen charge, roaring into championship bouts in a variety of ways that make the sport what it is.

Now 60-0 in his career, 43-0 in 2021-22, O’Blia, the defending 3A 106-pound champion, found himself in a tight semifinals clash against a taller, bigger and longer Elijah Montalvan of La Junta, who battled and countered with O’Blia into the final minute. O’Blia also was called for a penalty point and after just missing a chance for back points, he quickly turned Montalvan to break a 2-2 tie and earned a hard-fought pin at 6:31.

“I’m smaller and he’s bigger,” O’Blia said. “But I kept to my game, stayed patient and moved on.”

Said Mullen head coach John Howes: “Dale can just wrestle. He can really wrestle. He just keeps going and going … he was really patient. He takes what they give him and he goes. He doesn’t get discouraged and just keeps going.”

At 132, Linares was battling the flu, a severe lack of sleep, a couple of black eyes and probably whatever else could keep him sidelined, but he led Alex Castaneda of team-leading Eaton 4-1 into the final seconds. However, after Linares allowed Castaneda an escape to get within 4-2, he suffered a takedown at the buzzer ending regulation.

In overtime, an exhausted Linares somehow reached down and gained a late escape to win 5-4 and it was all he could do to stumble into a nearby training room.

“He’s the toughest kid mentally I’ve had," Howes said.

As for Valdez-Lemos, he led early and often before pinning Pepper Rhyne of Moffat County in 4:58, a convincing victory.

“One more to go!” Valdez-Lemos said before heading into the stands.

A fourth Mustang in the semifinals, Mark Troni (160) gave up a 2-point move near the end of the third period to lose a very back-and-forth 12-11 match. He’ll be in the consolation semifinals with a chance to finish in third place.

Another Mustang, sophomore Gilbert Antillon (113) is in the quarterfinals consolations.

And all of this came after moring quarterfinals.

Concerning Mullen’s lone female, senior Alina Antillon, who competes in a sort of co-op with Jefferson in the second season of girls competition, she kept going better than a river current. She earned a pin over Harper Andrews of Gunnison in a quick 57 seconds.

At 40-0, she has won every bout by fall and ony had to go into the second period once in 2021-22.

Runner-up a season ago, Antillon said she remains motivated by the loss – she also won non-sanctioned titles as a freshman and sophomore – and that she enjoys her Jefferson teammates, many of whom she wrestled with in earlier years.

And her excitement for a chance at a championship to close her career remains real.

All wrestlebacks will be completed before Saturday’s finals that are set to open with the always well-attended parade of champions at 5:30 p.m. Finals bouts usually begin about 40 minutes later.



106 – Dale O’Blia (42-0) pinned Dawsen Drozdic, Delta (40-9), 0:53.

132 – Noah Linares (41-6) dec. Preston Holt, Lutheran (42-7) 5-1.

160 – Mark Troni (40-3) pinned Gunnar Clary, Eaton (11-7), 1:13.

170  -- Kaleb Valdez-Lemos (43-4) major dec. Ethan Goldfain, Resurrection Christian (25-6) 15-5.

113 – Gilbert Antillon (32-10) pinned Grant Sinkard, Resurrection Christian (23-12), 2:25.

120 – Cayden Robbins (18-18) was pinned by Orlando Whatley, La Junta (16-9), 2:27.

145 – Adam Domenico (26-16) was dec. by Tytan Bentley, University (19-16) 10-4.

182 – Oliver Scelza (13-12) lost by tech. fall to Will Reeves, Resurrection Christian (29-13), 17-0.

220 – Amy Hall (7-10) was pinned by Angelo Perea, Coronado (18-6), 1:36.

113 – Gilbert Antillon (32-10) maj. dec. Donovan Birmingham, Fort Lupton 14-2.

106 – Dale O’Blia (43-0) pinned Elijah Montalvan, La Junta (29-9), 5:31.

132 – Noah Linares (42-6) dec. Carson Hawkins, Bennett (32-12 ) 5-4 OT.

160 – Mark Troni (40-4) lost by dec. to Ginaro Pino, Pueblo Central (43-5) 12-11.

170  -- Kaleb Valdez-Lemos (44-4) pinned Pepper Rhyne, Moffat County (27-2), 4:58.

113 – Gilbert Anillon (32-10) vs. Donovan Birmingham, Fort Lupton (22-16)

113 – Gilbert Antillon (33-10) vs. Nick Dardanes, Brush (40-6).

160 – Mark Troni (40-4) vs. TBA

106 – Dale O’Blia (43-0) vs. Samuel Rosales, Jefferson (36-6).

132 – Noah Linares (42-6) vs. Alex Castaneda, Eaton (45-6).

170 -- Kaleb Valdez-Lemos (44-4) vs. Ryan Dirksen, Eaton (43-0).


136 – Alina Antillon (39-0) pinned Laurel Hughes, Grand Junction (22-9), 0:23.

136 – Alina Antillon (40-0) pinned Harper Andrews, Gunnison (18-6), 0:57.

Quarterfinals consolation – 10 a.m.; Semifinals consolation immediately after; followed by fifth-place and third-place matchups.

Parade of Champions – 5:30 p.m.
Girls Basketball

The Mustangs completed their regular season with a 54-41 home victory over Arapahoe on Senior Night at Hutchison Fieldhouse.

Mullen, the three-time-defending 4A Colorado champion, will enter the playoffs with a 16-6 record, 8-3 in the 5A-based Centennial League in which it tied for second place with Cherry Creek.

“We played well,” Mustangs head coach Frank Cawley said. “Our defense was good – we kept them to single digits in two of the quarters.”

Mullen outscored the Warriors 20-18 in the second half.

Senior Kilah Freelon, signed with Texas Tech, led Mullen with 18 points. Gracie Gallegos, also a senior and signed with UC-San Diego, added 13.

The Mustangs, who have won five games in a row, await their seed in the 4A bracket that is due to be released on Sunday.

Arapahoe 6  17  7  11  --  41

Mullen  12  12  16  14  --  54

Mullen – Thomas 0 0-2 0, Giacomin 3 0-0 7, Gutierrez 2 1-1 5, Perez 3 0-0 6, Freelon 8 2-5 18, Schwertner 2 1-1 5, Gallegos 4 4-6 13. Totals 22 8-16 54.

3-pt. goals – Gallegos, Giacomin.
Boys Basketball

With improved defensive work, the Mustangs ran past Arapahoe 63-46 on Senior Night at The Hutch.

It was a victory Mullen had to have – it stayed in the chase to qualify for the 48-team 5A bracket that will be released on Sunday.

The Mustangs are 7-14 overall and finished Centennial play at 3-10.

Josh Lopez led the Mustangs with 15 points. Micah Leslie scored 11 and Ethan Heffern added 10.
Head coach Bob Caton cautioned that the Mustangs still have work to do as they will cap their regular on Saturday, 4 p.m., at home against Highlands Ranch in nonleague.

A Mullen victory is imperative for its placing in the big-school RPI, the key to postseason qualification. As of late Friday night, the Mustangs stood 49th.

Arapahoe  14  8  11  13  --  46

Mullen  17  13  17  16  --  63

Mullen – J. Leslie 3 3-5 9, Jerez 0 0-0 0, Lopez 3 7-11 15, Heffern 4 0-0 10, Smith 2 0-0 5, M. Leslie 5 1-1 11, Castillo 0 0-0 0, Diasselliss 0 0-0 0, Lay 3 4-4 10, Roth 1 0-2 3. Totals 21 15-19 63.

3-pt. goals – Heffern 2, Lopez 2, Roth, Smith.