Local wrestlers look to make mark at regionals
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
It’s the time of year wrestlers throughout Colorado gear their entire season around. Regional tournaments, where trips to state are earned by the worthy few, are Friday and Saturday.
Local grapplers are always at the center of the state chase.
Rifle and Glenwood Springs will be at Mullen High School in Denver for the 4A Western Regional, where 17 schools’ worth of wrestlers will vie for a top-four finish and the state meet berth that comes with it.
Coal Ridge and Grand Valley will head to Western State College in Gunnison for 3A’s Western Regional, at which 11 schools will send wrestlers to the mat.
Wrestling with a purpose after a third-place state finish last year, Rifle’s James Martinez will begin his quest for a state title at Mullen this weekend.
“He’s definitely on a mission,” Bears coach John Wisniewski said of his 140-pounder. “He’s wrestling really loose right now. He has a ton of confidence. He believes he can beat anybody in the state and I believe the same thing. He can take anybody down in the state the way he’s wrestling right now.”
Martinez is one of a handful of state contenders for Rifle.
Keaton Deere (119 pounds) and Larry Schmueser are returning state qualifiers.
Edgar Layra (103), Devon Godeski (112), Hugo Ruelas (125), Kyle Shaw (160), Tyler Davis (171) and Nick Mellon (heavyweight) are a few other names to watch.
“I think we can qualify all our boys,” Wisniewski said. “If they step up and wrestle at the caliber they can, I think they can make it. This team could do some really good things. I think some of our younger guys can shock some of the other guys at the tournament.”
Glenwood Springs, which saw now-graduated Greg Orosz score a fifth-place finish at state last year, won’t send any state-seasoned wrestlers to the mat this weekend.
A few have a legitimate shot of making it to the Pepsi Center, though.
Mike Mills (119), Taylor Parsons (130) and Chris Ayala (160) have a chance to advance.
Others in the mix include Emilio Alcala (135), Casey Montoya (140), Tanner Gianinetti (145) and Brian Ochoa (215).
Grand Valley coach Rick Gallegos insists his team, which finished third in 3A at state last year and won it all at the 2A level in 2008, doesn’t change anything up now that the matches mean a bit more.
“You know, it’s kind of just business as usual,” he said. “We don’t really change our routine. We’ve got a mindset on how we do things and the boys understand it well. We take it one match at a time.”
The Cardinals enter the season’s stretch run with a lineup heavy on state experience.
Jared Tonder, Ryan Gallegos and Tyler Miles have all wrestled in state title matches.
Miles won the 152-pound crown in 2A two years ago. Tonder was the 3A runner-up at 140 pounds last year and Gallegos, who wrestles at 145 pounds, is a three-time silver medalist.
All three are seniors and all three will have a big say in how their weight-class brackets play out.
Junior Jerrod Busch (135) and sophomore David Witt (160) are also returning state qualifiers.
Neal Schultz is Coal Ridge’s lone returning state qualifier. The 130-pound junior made it at 125 pounds last season and is seeking his third trip to state in as many years as the Titans head to Gunnison this weekend.
Schultz’s freshman brother, Tucker, is a 103-pounder who could also make some noise. Ryland Richards (171) could also do some damage.
Trevor Larsen (119) is another Titan contender.
“He’s been coming on strong,” Coal Ridge coach Mike Mikalakis said. “He’s been wrestling really well.”
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