By Andy Sidel
Brandon Champagne, a senior, was deprived of the wish to make it to State one last time with his team. That didn’t keep him away from the Pepsi Center this past weekend. As he sat on the sidelines, wishing he could be in the middle of the Pepsi Center floor, he screamed and shouted for his wrestling teammates on the mat.
During his four-year wrestling career at Legend, Champagne wrestled Varsity and was one of the three Varsity captains each year. As a freshman, Champagne made it to State. As a sophomore, he was out for half of the season because of three serious concussions and has a scary memory gap from November to March of that year.
“Those three concussions could have killed me. That was a scary thought,” said Champagne.
His perseverance and passion, however, forced him to continue to wrestle.
During Legend’s wrestling match with Ponderosa in December, Champagne injured a rib. He continued to wrestle in pain. During the regional match Feb. 16 to qualify for state, wrestling in fourth place, Champagne re-injured the same rib.
Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) has a rule in which a wrestle-back is performed between fourth and fifth place finishers if they had not met previously in the regional tournament. If the fifth place wrestler challenges the fourth place wrestler, the fourth place wrestler must accept. Champagne was in this situation.
“Despite what the trainer said, I went out there and wrestled the fifth place guy and gave it my all. Even though I lost, I don’t have any regrets because I put it all out there,” Champagne said.
Champagne went to watch and cheer on his fellow teammates at the Pepsi Center on Feb. 21-23. Senior Colton Fries and freshman Caleb Strahan, both treasured Champagne’s company.
“I went up to State all three days to support my teammates and give them support. It was hard to not be wrestling but I was happy to be there and cheer them on,” added Champagne.
Champagne’s support of his teammates at State was just part of his deep commitment to the team. Before his own match, at regionals in particular, Champagne ensured that everybody else was prepared and mentally stable. According to Juan Aguilar, parent of freshman wrestler Adam Aguilar, Champagne cared about everyone else’s match before he even considered his own.
“I’ve helped coach Cimarron Middle School’s wrestling team as well as Legend’s junior wrestling team and I love to help others. I wanted to make sure that everyone was prepared for their matches and understood what was ahead. As for going to state, I was proud of everyone and wanted to cheer them on,” Champagne said.
Champagne has had four great years with Legend’s wrestling program. Through State, concussions, broken ribs, and his selfless acts, Brandon Champagne made a name and reputation for himself. He set the standard very high for the other wrestlers, but according to Champagne, they can take on the challenge. Players look up to Champagne and enjoy having him teach them things that they don’t know.
“Helping the other kids makes sure they know how to do things and helps us to remember certain things as well,” said Fries.
Champagne will attend Colorado State University in the Fall to study health and exercise science and will try a dual major in another undecided category. From there, he plans to go on to medical school. Champagne will either wrestle, coach youth wrestling, or get into martial arts. Most likely, according to Champagne, he will be coaching youth wrestling.
“I am disappointed that I didn’t make it to state, and it’s sad, but I went to support everyone else that did,” Champagne said. “I love being able to help them and support them. I hope they do just as well next year.”