Local wrestling teams clean up at 3A Western Regional
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Shuttling only nine wrestlers to Friday and Saturday’s 3A Western Regional in Salida, Grand Valley’s chances of sending big numbers to next weekend’s state tournament weren’t high, right?
As they always seem to do, the Cardinals delivered when it mattered most.
“You can just call us the lucky seven,” Grand Valley coach Rick Gallegos said.
That’s right. Seven Cardinals survived regionals and will wrestle another weekend by virtue of top-four finishes in Salida.
The state tournament runs Thursday through Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
Senior Emilio Ruelas led the way, going 4-0 at 145 pounds to win a regional title. He’ll take a 35-6 record into the Pepsi Center.
Finishing second were senior Jerrod Busch (135 pounds) and junior David Witt (152).
Taking fourth were freshman Miguel Valles (112), sophomore George Stagg (119), freshman Will Hinkle (140) and sophomore Michael Salazar (160).
“It was a real exciting regional tournament,” Gallegos said. “The kids just wrestled above themselves. It was incredible. I knew they had it in them.”
As a team, Grand Valley finished up in fifth place. Olathe ran away with the team title.
Placing 11 of its 12 wrestlers and qualifying eight to the state tournament, Rifle rolled to a bronze finish in Salida.
“It was sweet,” Bears coach John Wisniewski said. “It was a good showing by all of our guys.”
Senior Larry Schmueser landed his fourth straight state tournament berth, winning a regional title at 140 pounds. He defeated Coal Ridge’s Neal Schultz in Saturday’s final.
Junior Brandon Kittle (119) and senior Keaton Deere (125) each finished second for the Bears. Deere will be making his third consecutive trip to state.
Junior A.J. Cordova (160) and senior Kyle Shaw (189) both took third and senior Frankie Ruelas (135) and junior Alex Copeland (145) each wrestled to fourth.
Sophomore Coy Zang took a more adventurous route in landing his state berth. The 130-pounder was filling in for Hugo Ruelas, who came down with the flu Thursday morning and had to sit out regionals.
“He was wrestling JVs,” Wisniewski said. “He placed fifth, so he had a chance for a wrestle-back. He won his wrestle-back and gets to state. It’s totally awesome he was able to do that.”
Until Thursday night, Zang had plans to compete in a rodeo event this weekend.
“We called him up Thursday night and said, ‘Hey, want to wrestle?'” Wisniewski said. “He said, ‘Well, I guess. I have to call my roping partner and tell him I’m not going to rodeo this weekend.’ He was heading off to rodeo and, lo and behold, now he’s heading to the state tournament.”
Placing but missing out on the necessary top-four finish to qualify for state were freshman Dallas Rohrig (112, fifth place), freshman Clayton Coombs (152, sixth) and sophomore Ryan Moeller (171, fifth).
Coal Ridge’s Devon Godeski and Schultz are headed to state.
Godeski, a junior who transferred from Rifle this school year, won a regional title at 130 pounds.
“Our new transfer student has a lot of really high goals,” Titans coach Mike Mikalakis said. “He’s on his way to achieving some of them.”
Schultz, a senior who lost only to Schmueser in the finals, finished second at 140.
“Neal’s a senior who wants to make sure he leaves his mark,” Mikalakis said. “He’s meant a lot to the program. Hopefully he can clinch a place at the state meet.”
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