State success in wrestling continues for Cejudo, Barak
Coronado sported two state wrestling champions this winter - junior Henry Cejudo in the 119-pound class and senior Gabe
Burak in the 112.
Success is not new to either of these athletes. Both have won national championships (Cejudo six times and Burak once). Both have won three state championships (Cejudo twice in Arizona and now here and Burak three straight years here).
“In 20 years, I've never had two wrestlers like this,” said Coronado coach Matt Brickell.
Cejudo, who transferred to Coronado this year, was only able to wrestle half the season as a result. Even in that partial span, he racked up a 23-0 record, with 152 takedowns. “If he'd wrestled the whole season, he would have broken a state record for takedowns,” Brickell said.
At state, Cejudo had his opponent in position for a pin 18 seconds into the match, but said he deliberately passed up the opportunity on the way to an easy 22-7 win. A quick pin would have provided too brief a show for his mother, who was visiting from Arizona, he explained.
Brickell will be sorry to lose Burak to graduation. “He's what you'd call a coach's dream,” Brickell said. “He does whatever you ask of him. I've never had to worry about anything with Gabe. And he's an incredible student.”
The two wrestlers have different styles as well as backgrounds. Cejudo specializes in takedowns - using a freestyle wrestling style in which he continually repeats the cycle of grappling overmatched opponents to the floor, then letting them up again. Burak goes for pins, using legwork to finish the job, Brickell noted.
Cejudo is close to his older brother, Angel, a nationally ranked wrestler at the Olympic Training Center, while Burak has been influenced by his father, Stephen, who works with Athletes in Action wrestling programs.
One aspect in which both champions are alike is their tireless work on technique. Their experience in national competition also gives them an edge over statewide foes, according to Cejudo. “You see different styles at the nationals,” he said, adding that if he sees a style he likes he tries to incorporate it into his moves.
Burak was especially pleased with his state-finals victory over Chris Martinez of Brighton, who had given him his only loss of the year. “I was pretty excited,” Burak said. “I didn't want to lose that last match.”
Cejudo confessed that his title “feels good, but not as good as winning at the nationals.”
Brickell said Oklahoma State University is interested in recruiting Burak. However, Gabe said his plans now are to stay in town another year, work out at the Olympic Training Center, take classes at UCCS and hopefully grow a bit more.
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