Daniel Cardenas takes aim at Pomona wrestling history

Dennis Pleuss
Jeffco Public Schools
Posted 11/19/21

DENVER — There is no chance Pomona senior Daniel Cardenas is going to get ahead of himself this wrestling season. Sure … the 3-time individual state wrestling champion is attempting to make …

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Daniel Cardenas takes aim at Pomona wrestling history

Posted

DENVER — There is no chance Pomona senior Daniel Cardenas is going to get ahead of himself this wrestling season.

Sure … the 3-time individual state wrestling champion is attempting to make history this season. Cardenas is trying to join the exclusive 4-timer club, but also would be the first Pomona wrestler to become a 4-time high school state champion in Colorado.

“I’m not making too big of a deal of it,” Cardenas said during the CHSAA Media Day on Nov. 9 at Ball Arena. “It’s going to be another state championship (tournament), nothing too crazy.”

Cardenas is banking that what happened to Pomona wrestling legend Tom Clum more than 20 years ago won’t be on tap at the state tournament coming up Feb. 17-19 at Ball Arena. 

“I’ve heard about it obviously. It’s a crazy story to hear,” Cardenas said of the Clum story. “It drives me more and harder not to allow that to be a thought in my head.” 

Clum was attempting to be the first Colorado high school wrestler to become an undefeated 4-time state champion. He took his 148-0 record up against Wasson’s Brett Roller in the 5A 125-pound title match during the 2001 state championships.

In what was a wild match, Clum had a 12-8 lead late in the third period. However, Roller pulled off a 2-point takedown and 3-point near-fall in the final 10 seconds taking a 13-12 victory over Clum.

Current wrestling coach at Pomona — Sam Federico — had actually just moved from Oregon to Colorado and was a fan in the stands at Pepsi Center getting his first taste of the state tournament.

“I had never been to a high school state wrestling tournament like that before. It was packed. It was crazy,” Federico said. “Growing up in Oregon we had 5,000 to 6,000 fans, not 15,000 or 16,000.”

Federico admitted he didn’t even know where Pomona High School was located. He watched as bedlam happened after Clum’s loss. 

Being in Cardenas’s corner at Ball Arena for a fourth straight state title is what Federico envisions more than 20 years after Clum just fell short of becoming Pomona’s first 4-time state champion.

“For him winning is not a goal. It’s a byproduct of the work he puts in and he puts in a ton of it,” Federico said of Cardenas. “He is a great leader on our team. He makes my job easier.”

As a team, Pomona is attempting to grab a fourth straight 5A team title. 

“Everyone just works hard consistently. We have to stay on each other as a team like we always have,” Cardenas said as Pomona zeros in on a fourth consecutive team title. “It will come. It is going to come.”

One change for Cardenas came a handful of weeks ago. He had verbally committed to Cornell University, but switched to Stanford University. Rob Koll has recruited Cardenas when he was at Cornell. When Koll was named the new coach at Stanford in May the Pomona wrestling standout decided to make the change to the west coast. 

It’s clear with his college decision behind him now Cardenas can turn his complete focus is taking care of business on the mat. Something Cardenas has done his entire high school career setting up a history making moment.

“I don’t even try to think about that type of stuff,” Cardenas said of on the brink of history. “I try to think about each match.”

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