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Home mat a welcome sight for Rifle

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent
ALL |

RIFLE, Colorado – After back-to-back weekends at out-of-state tournaments, Rifle wrestling coach John Wisniewski welcomed Saturday’s Rumble in the Rockies dual team tournament more than most.

“I can’t tell you how nice it is to wrestle back in our own state,” he said with a smile.

Further, Wisniewski and the Bears were wrestling in their own gymnasium for the first time all season. And, after trips to Vernal, Utah and Green River, Wyo., the last two weekends, Rifle enjoyed a happy homecoming.



Winning four of their five matches, the Bears finished second only to Delta in the 10-team affair.

Individually, four Rifle wrestlers fashioned perfect records.



Brandon Kittle (119 pounds), Larry Schmueser (140), A.J. Cordova (160) and Kyle Shaw (171) all went 5-0 on Saturday.

Schmueser, rated second in Class 3A at 140 pounds in the latest batch of On the Mat rankings, improved to 27-3. He finished with two pins, two decisions and a forfeit win.

With regionals and the state meet looming on the horizon, Schmueser’s season is right on track.

“I’m going in better prepared this year,” the three-time state qualifier said. “I’m expecting to take it and be ready every match. In the past I’ve gone and choked in matches I should have won. I feel pretty strong.”

Rogelio Navarro (103), Keaton Deere (125) and Alex Copeland (145) all pieced together 4-1 records.

Navarro’s four wins were all by pin.

“Coming into this, I think he’s really excited to be wrestling at home,” Wisniewski said.

A 54-27 win over Garfield Re-2 School District mate Coal Ridge might have been the highlight of the day for the Bears.

“I said, ‘Guys, this is what our day is circled on. I want you guys to beat Coal Ridge,'” Wisniewski said. “‘They beat us in football. They beat us in basketball. This is what I want.’ The boys picked it up and won.”

Next up for Rifle is a Thursday dual with Hotchkiss, again at the friendly confines of Rifle High School.

With sophomore Michael Salazar’s 5-0 day at 160 pounds paving the way, Grand Valley posted a 3-2 record in Rifle.

Cody Pfau (103), George Stagg (119), Jerrod Busch (135), William Hinkle (140), Emilio Ruelas (145) and David Witt (152) all went 4-1 for the Cardinals, whose only losses were to Pueblo West and tournament champ Delta.

After losing a pair of state champions to graduation, Grand Valley is slowly but surely finding its way in 2010-11.

“I knew we lost a lot,” Cardinals coach Rick Gallegos said. “Graduating some horses like that, we knew it was going to be different, but the boys, going into that room, you’re going to have to bust your butt.

“We have some youth in their taking their lumps, but I can count on them showing up every day.”

On tap for Grand Valley is a trip to Fruita Monument for a dual on Thursday.

Coal Ridge’s run at Rifle was a solid one. The Titans finished up 4-1, losing only to the host Bears.

“I don’t think we’d won a match here in three years,” Titans coach Mike Mikalakis said. “This is our first time. Going 4-1, that’s huge for us.”

Neal Schultz went 4-1 individually. The 140-pounder’s only loss was to Schmueser.

Devon Godeski (130) and Michael Shaw (135) were also 4-1 on the day.

For Godeski, who transferred to Coal Ridge from Rifle this school year, Saturday marked his first meet with the Titans.

“He was a transfer, so he had to sit out the first half of the season,” Mikalakis said. “This was his first tournament back, and it looks like he’s ready to go.”

Godeski and the Titans return to the mat Thursday for a home triangular with Eagle Valley and Summit.

jcaspersen@postindependent.com


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