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Rider wrestles to gold at Cliff Keen Tulsa Nationals

It’s not easy leaving the Cliff Keen Tulsa Nationals with a first-place trophy.

Widely regarded as the toughest and most prestigious youth wrestling tournament in the country, the Oklahoma event is fiercely competitive.

That didn’t keep Rifle 12-year-old Josiah Rider from winning his weight class at the Jan. 20-21 tourney.



Rider defeated a familiar foe, Robert Garcia, in the finals of the 12-and-under, 100-pound bracket. Garcia, who’s from California, defeated Rider in the semifinals of the November Cliff Keen Tulsa Kickoff Classic.

Rider eagerly awaited the rematch.



With no score in the first period, Rider chose to take bottom in the second to go for an escape. He didn’t get it, leaving the score at 0-all after two.

In the third period, Garcia chose bottom and Rider worked to turn Garcia when he tried putting the “Peterson” on Rider. Rider countered with a back-scoring move for two points.

Garcia answered with an escape to make it 2-1 with 45 seconds left.

Garcia attempted to hit Rider with two “slide-bys,” but Rider kept his position and held on for the win.

Rider rolled his way to the finals. He racked up a pin and wins by scores of 11-0, 15-0 and 7-0.

It was Rider’s second Tulsa Nationals title. He won previously in 2008.

The Cliff Keen Tulsa Nationals, which has been held annually for more than 50 years, featured 1,869 entries and an average of 30 to 60 wrestlers per age and weight bracket. More than 40 states were represented.

Rider is a member of the Mile High Colorado Duals Team, which travels to tournaments throughout the country, including ones in New Jersey, Virginia, Ohio and Missouri.

Rider credits his dad, Trever, for “being his coach and helping him do what it takes to achieve his goals and dreams.”

Other season highlights so far for Rider include:

• A first-place finish in the Rocky Mountain Nationals Monster Match and the tournament’s 12U outstanding wrestler award.

• A first-place finish at Big Horn Nationals in 12U and 14U.


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