State wrestling notes: Sand Creek's Alefosio Saipaia surprises with finals appearance

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Photo - Cheyenne Mountain's Mike McFadden celebrates his 132 lb semifinal win over Andrew Bench of Central Grand Junction at the Colorado State Wrestling Tournament Friday, February 17, 2017 at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette
Cheyenne Mountain's Mike McFadden celebrates his 132 lb semifinal win over Andrew Bench of Central Grand Junction at the Colorado State Wrestling Tournament Friday, February 17, 2017 at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette

Sand Creek's 285 pounder unexpectedly makes finals

Sand Creek's Alefosio Saipaia had a takedown in the final seconds of his semifinals match to punch his ticket into Saturday's championship.

Saipaia didn't make the state tournament last season and came into the tournament this year unranked in Tim Yount's On The Mat's Week 10 Rankings.

"I'm not even supposed to be here," the junior grinned after his improbable win Friday.

Saipaia, who took third at his region, turned Erie's Nate Hackney over with nine seconds left in the third to move on.

Saipaia will face Pueblo East's Andy Garcia in the finals on Saturday.

"It's a blessing," he said. "I'm here because of my effort and my devotion."

Dabelko continues redemption tour

Coronado's Stephen Dabelko has used much of this season to turn the wrongs of a disappointing 2015-16 campaign into right.

And fittingly enough, he'll have to go through the only wrestler that's beaten him this season to win his first state title.

Dabelko moved into the Class 5A 113-pound finals after three dominant performances: a win by pin, injury forfeit and tech fall. His last hurdle of the tournament will be Pomona's Justin Pacheco, who beat Dabelko earlier in the season.

"It's good to go against somebody that's just as good as me - he beat me," Dabelko said. "I want to make sure I'm the best in the state. I don't want anybody to say he had an easy match in the finals."

Teams in the hunt

Cheyenne Mountain is second in 4A with 88 points, while Mesa Ridge (57.5) is seventh and Discovery Canyon (48.5) is ninth.

Coronado is fifth in 5A with 74.5 points.