RIFLE — The Rifle High School wrestling team had more than a few trial-by-fire moments Thursday night. It’s something coach John Wisniewski fully expected.
“It doesn’t help when your lineup from the low teens all the way up to [132 pounds] is nothing but freshmen and sophomores,” Wisniewski said. “And there were four guys getting their first crack at varsity tonight. That made it kinda tough.”
The Bears are trying to build back to the kind of success they’ve had on the wrestling mat this season, but the young nucleus of wrestlers they have could take some time this year to learn. That was evident during a triangular at Rifle High School, where Delta posted a 52-16 victory over Rifle before Eagle Valley came away with a 42-36 win over the Bears.
Clayton Coombs was one of two Rifle wrestlers to go unbeaten during the two duals, wrestling up a weight to 220 pounds to pin Delta’s Alejandro Medina at the 5 minute, 52 second mark of the match before winning his second match by forfeit. Also winning twice was 138-pounder Oscar Ruelas, who beat Delta’s Daryan Urquhart in a 7-3 decision before winning his match against the Devils by forfeit.
Rifle heavyweight Jose Prado and his teammate, 145-pounder David Fugita, split the matches they wrestled.
There were plenty of learning experiences for the young Bears the rest of the way. Wisniewski, however, doesn’t look at that as a down side.
“You could pick on every little aspect and grow from it,” the coach said. “Like Carry [Ebler] at 120s, who got pinned on first takedown. He took a beautiful shot before that, but now it’s about finishing it right. It’s about growing, and we’re taking steps in the right direction.”
Missing from the lineup was senior Dallas Rohrig, a multiple state-tournament qualifier who wrestles at 132 pounds. He sat out to rest a knee injury.
Prado pinned Eagle Valley’s Xavier Mendoza in 4:56, taking the lead for good in the second period with an escape before overpowering Mendoza in the third period to net the pin. He almost netted the same result early on against Delta’s Marcus Garcia, taking an early 4-0 lead thanks to a first-period takedown and nearfall before Garcia rallied to earn the pin at the 3:57 mark.
Ruelas led 5-0 with 1:02 left in the second period against Urquhart, then played safe in the third period to hold on.
Coombs, who normally wrestles at 195, moved up a weight to wrestle Medina since no one on the Delta or Eagle Valley squad had a wrestler in his weight class. He used a helicopter move to move his shoulder blades to the left side of his body, taking advantage of a spot where Medina moved his hips over too early.
“This isn’t the first time I’ve wrestled up,” Coombs said. “I actually asked if I could move up. I didn’t want to come away from today with just a couple of forfeit wins.”