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Steamboat wrestler Houston Mader wins quarterfinal match, drops semifinal

Steamboat Springs 135-pound wrestler Houston Mader, left, defeats Josh Lucero from Fountain-Fort Carson to advance to the semifinals of the Class 4A State Wrestling Tournament in Denver on Friday. Mader lost in his semifinal match against Northridge's Justin Gonzales.
Dave Shively

— Steamboat Springs wrestler Houston Mader’s matches were getting so close that even the referees didn’t know which way to call them.

For the second consecutive match at the Colorado High School Activities Association’s Class 4A State Wrestling Tournament, the referee issued match-breaking points to Mader’s opponents and then reversed the decision.

The most recent reversal came Friday during the overtime period of Mader’s 135-pound quarterfinal against Josh Lucero, a 23-8 senior from Fountain-Fort Carson.

Down 1-0 in the third period of regulation, Mader grabbed Lucero’s leg and scored a much-needed point in the final minute of the match to tie things up. With time expiring, Lucero was looking for a takedown to win, but Mader turned into a whirling dervish, repeatedly spinning out to push the one-minute overtime.

“He was trying to get behind me for two points, but then I would’ve lost,” Mader said. “We probably spun around five or six times. That was a total scramble moment, the hardest I’ve ever had.”

In overtime, the referee called two points for Lucero for a takedown, but then changed his mind about whether Lucero had control.

Fountain-Fort Carson coach Chris James thought the strange overtime call may have cost his kid the match.

“(The ref) called two (points), and our kid kind of relaxed,” James said, careful not to detract from Mader’s performance. “But that last point (in regulation) was a great effort by (Mader). He had a second life, and when a takedown wins, he took the shot – boy, he better win it now.”

Mader scored a takedown to win, 3-1, but was unable to advance to today’s championship match.

Mader’s semifinal match against Northridge’s Justin Gonzales (33-3 and ranked as the state’s No. 1 135-pound wrestler going into the tournament) broke his streak of close calls.

Gonzales proved his ranking, going up 5-0 after the first period and almost pinning Mader in the second. Nearly 45 seconds ticked off the clock as Mader struggled beneath Gonzales before breaking free. Mader rolled out, but Gonzales scored another takedown to win, 16-1, by technical fall.

Mader wrestles today in the consolation bracket and, with a win, can qualify for the third-place match.

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