Velasquez realizes a dream

Dale Strode/Durango Herald

After weighing multidivisional offers, Aaron Velasquez finally signed to wrestle with Division I University of Northern Colorado, and his parents – Gus and Tina Velasquez; his assistant wrestling coaches – Trent Webber and Todd McMenimen; his athletic director – Dave Preszler; his head wrestling coach – Herb Stinson; and his head football coach – Marshall Hahn – all were in attendance on signing day.

By Dale Strode Herald staff writer

BAYFIELD

In middle school, Aaron Velasquez dreamed of winning a state wrestling championship.

He did.

In high school, Velasquez dreamed of winning a state wrestling championship.

He won two.

Velasquez, one of the most successful wrestlers in Bayfield High School history, also dreamed of wrestling in college at the highest level.

He will.

Velasquez, the Bayfield senior and all-state football player as well as wrestler, signed a national letter of intent to wrestle at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley – NCAA Division I.

“I’ve always had a dream of competing at the (NCAA) Division I level in wrestling,” Velasquez said at the letter-signing ceremony at Bayfield High School.

“There is no division higher,” said Velasquez, who won state high school titles as a junior and senior.

“It’s kind of stressful, trying to see myself in four or five years,” he said of the process of weighing multiple options for his college wrestling career.

He visited several schools and entertained offers from Division I to Division II to Division III to junior college. His visit to Northern Colorado was the deciding factor.

“When I visited, I really liked what I saw,” Velasquez said. “I liked the fact that it was in-state, and I liked the fact it was a Division I program. “I’ll be able to test my abilities against the best wrestlers in the nation.”

Velasquez said the wrestlers and coaches in Greeley convinced him that UNC was the right choice.

“They (UNC wrestlers) are committed. We all have the same goals,” he said. “We all want to get better and win team championships and individual championships.”

He’s also expecting tough competition in the UNC practice room. And he’s looking forward to it.

“The practice room is competitive. That’s where you get better,” said Velasquez, who was undefeated during his state championship junior season. He lost only two matches en route to winning state as a senior.

Velasquez – one of Bayfield’s most versatile athletes – ranked third in the state in the discus this spring.

Last fall, Velasquez led the state in Class 2A rushing for Bayfield’s state runner-up football team.

He also was one of the area’s top middle school basketball players before he focused on wrestling in high school.

“I have to thank my coaches for all the effort they put into me,” Velasquez said at his signing ceremony. He specifically thanked head wrestling coach Herb Stinson and head football coach Marshall Hahn.

Hahn also was an assistant wrestling coach. And like Velasquez, Hahn was a two-time state high school wrestling champion. He, too, went on to an All-American career at the UNC-Greeley.

“My coaches stuck with me through the good, the bad and the ugly, Velasquez said. “And there were some ugly times. But they were the ones pushing me to be the best every day.

“I’ve got to thank them for getting me where I am now,” said Velasquez, son of Gus and Tina Velasquez.

“This is great,” Stinson said of Velasquez’s signing with UNC.

“There was a little growing up on everybody’s part along the way,” Stinson said. “There were adjustments on everybody’s part. And we’ve come away with a far better young man.”

dstrode@durangoherald.com

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