The home stretch of the ever-grinding high school wrestling season is here. Rifle High School's wrestling team is starting to feel the effects.
With the Class 4A Western Region tournament in Montrose fast approaching on Feb. 15-16, much of the Bears' focus turns to cutting and maintaining weight while keeping the intensity they've had much of the season. That can be a challenge for many of the athletes who want to perform well at the Class 4A State Championships, scheduled for Feb. 21-23 at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
That's just the kind of challenge Rifle coach John Wisniewski likes for his team, however. It's also the reason why the Bears have a beefed-up schedule even as the regional tournament approaches.
"I keep telling the kids that wrestling is 15 percent physical and 85 percent mental," the coach said. "The wrestling part is something where you can just go out and do it - the physical part. But we also want them to be mentally prepared out there as well."
Over the course of the season, Rifle has competed only in weekend tournaments. The scheduling got a little more intense this week, however, with the Bears competing at Coal Ridge this past Saturday and earning a 57-18 dual-match win against Steamboat Springs on Tuesday prior to today's triangular meet against Palisade and Basalt at the Rifle High gym. Start time is scheduled for 5 p.m.
Wisniewski said the reasoning for that is simple. It's only a matter of preparation.
"This isn't a normal schedule for us," the coach said. "At this time of year, I like to have these come in back to back to back to prepare us for these days of weigh-ins."
Tourney time for Cards
Grand Valley's wrestling team isn't facing quite as grinding of a schedule as the regular season comes to a close. The Cardinals, however, will wrestle in a pair of dual matches on Friday in Cedaredge.
Grand Valley's big tournament comes next weekend when the Cardinals host the Class 3A Region 1 Tournament in Parachute from Feb. 15-16. Teams attending include Basalt, Buena Vista, Grand Valley, Cedaredge, Gunnison, Hotchkiss, Coal Ridge, Salida, Lake County and Olathe.
The top four individual placers in each of the four Class 3A regional tournaments automatically advance to the 3A State Championships, also scheduled for Feb. 21 to 23 at the Pepsi Center.