Intensity for the Rifle High School wrestling team has picked up a notch in the past few weeks. For Grand Valley's wrestling team, it never wavered.Needless to say, both squads are well on their way to impressive seasons, after performances this past weekend. The Bears had six wrestlers finish 7-0 at the eight-team Gunnison Invitational - with two others finishing 6-1 - and Grand Valley's three weight-class champions were the most of any team at the Eagle Valley Invitational in Gypsum.Both teams plan on using that momentum and learn from the mistakes made on Friday and Saturday. Rifle faces tough testRifle heads north of the Colorado border to the Green River (Wyo.) Invitational, where the Bears figure they'll see enough top-notch competition to more than prepare them for the home stretch of the schedule. The 16-team tournament is scheduled for Friday and Saturday. Friday will feature a dual-team tournament, and the top two wrestlers from each weight class Friday will be selected to compete on Saturday in a best-of-the-best tournament format."The true test of toughness will be in Green River," Rifle coach John Wisniewski said. "I'm really optimistic. We have a really good corps of guys from 120 (pounds) to 145. If those guys are on, they can really carry our dual team."Among them are Oscar Ruelas (120), Coy Zang (126), Isaac Rider (132), Dallas Rohrig (138) and Hugo Ruelas (145), each of whom swept their seven matches in Gunnison this past weekend. Clayton Coombs (182) also finished 7-0 and won his respective weight-class title.Wisniewski also praised the efforts of Alex Rivas, who finished 3-4 at the tournament but showed receptiveness and improvement as the tournament progressed.Cards want to step it upGrand Valley, even though its team consists of only 10 varsity wrestlers, wasn't satisfied with a fifth-place finish at Eagle Valley. The Cardinals even had three individual champions in Cody Pfau (106), Miguel Valles (126) and Will Hinkle (152) - more than any other team at the tournament - but came away wanting more."I saw Miguel come in to practice [Monday] and I said to him 'What's up, champ?'" Grand Valley coach Rick Gallegos said. "He said to me, 'You know, I was looking at my medal, and I realized I could have done better.'""I told him, 'You're right,'" Gallegos continued. "This is our 10th season with this program, and we've had some success. With good success come greater expectations. I push them extremely hard, and I keep telling them that if they're going to go through this, they're not going to go through this for nothing. We're not just going to go to state just to say we were there. We want to come away with something."In the meantime, the Cardinals will wrestle in a triangular tournament against Buena Vista and Lake County on Friday, then head south to Leadville to wrestle in the Jim McCall Invitational on Saturday. Regardless of how things turn out over the weekend, the Cardinals' philosophy is it will be another warm-up for the Class 3A Region 1 Tournament, scheduled for Feb. 15-16 at Grand Valley High School."This is all practice," Gallegos said. "Regardless of how things go, regionals is what it's all about."
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