Rifle wrestling finishes fourth at regionals
Competing in Region 4 of the 3A regional wrestling tournaments across the state, the Rifle Bears came through with a fourth-place finish as a team, recording 148.5 points to finish behind Olathe, Delta and Moffat County this past weekend.
For Rifle, Carlos Esparza (120) finished second overall in his bracket, defeating Coal Ridge’s Kevin Nevarez by fall at the 2:27 mark. Esparza then followed up with another fall win, this one against Gunnison’s Mikhail Garcia at the 5:01 mark.
Esparza would then pick up an 8-6 decision win over Bayfield’s Cody Speece in the semifinals to advance to take on Montezuma-Cortez’s Matthew Broughton in the title match.
Broughton would top Esparza in a 4-2 decision.
In the 126-pound division, Rifle’s Colt Rohrig placed first overall, scoring 26 points for the Bears.
In the first round, Rohrig topped Montezuma-Cortez’s Garret Boren by fall just 56 seconds into the match before pinning Pagosa Springs’ Tate Hinger at the 4:52 mark.
Rohrig then followed up with an 8-5 decision win over Bayfield’s Garrett Beebe in the semifinals before topping Olathe’s Andrew Godfrey by a 2-1 decision to bring home first place for the Bears.
Alex Cordova (145) also turned in a strong performance for Rifle, finishing second overall to clinch a spot in the state tournament.
After receiving a bye in the first round, Cordova topped Eagle Valley’s Tony Valdez by technical fall (16-0) at the 3:02 mark.
Cordova then won by injury default over Moffat County’s Jefferson Piatt to advance to the title match, where he dropped an 8-7 decision against Bayfield’s Ryan Nava.
Along with Cordova, Miguel Guardado (152) placed fourth overall, scoring 12 team points for the Bears.
Guardado also received a first round bye before dropping a 7-4 decision to Pagosa Springs’ Dalton Lucero in the second round.
Working in the consolation bracket, Guardado then reeled off a 4-1 decision win over Moffat’s Drake Zimmerman and a 4-2 decision over Steamboat’s Matthew Hansen to advance to the third-place match.
In the third-place match, Lucero once again got the best of Guardado, picking up a 7-5 decision. Guardado would bounce back though by picking up a rule win over Hansen in the fourth place match to advance to the state tournament.
In the 160-pound division, Maxx Demann finished second overall while scoring 20 team points for the Bears.
Demann received a first-round bye before pinning Coal Ridge’s Jacx Power at the 5:23 mark before topping Bayfield’s Macoy Michaeli by decision, 11-10.
In the first-place match, Demann came up short against Steamboat’s Hayden Johnson, losing by technical fall (16-0) midway through the match.
Rifle senior Ethan Strouse also advanced to the state tournament, placing fourth overall at regionals.
Strouse won by fall over Eagle Valley’s Seth Kuhn just 55 seconds into the match, before dropping a 7-2 decision to Olathe’s Trent Rose in the quarterfinals.
Working out of the consolation bracket, Strouse rebounded with fall wins over Coal Ridge’s Gage Clemons (2:56) and Basalt’s Thomas Wirth (1:43) to advance to the consolation semifinals.
Wrestling against Pagosa Springs’ Chance McReynolds, Strouse picked up a 4-3 decision to advance to the third-place match, where he dropped a 2-1 decision to Rose once again.
However, Strouse would pick up a rule win over McReynolds to claim fourth place.
At 182, Jacob Henderson placed second overall and scored 22 points for the Bears.
After receiving a first-round bye, Henderson pinned Delta’s Sam Komives at the 3:29 mark before pinning Basalt’s William Rivera at 1:56 to advance to the title match.
Once there, Henderson dropped a 5-0 decision to Sheridan’s Aaron Apodaca to wrap up the second place finish.
Outside of Rifle, Coal Ridge’s Jacx Power also advanced to the state tournament with a third-place finish in the 160-pound division.
Power, who had a strong year on the mat for the Titans, topped Montezuma-Cortez’s Rielly Birch by fall just 1:10 into the match before losing by fall to Rifle’s Demann at the 5:23 mark.
Despite losing to Demann, Power would receive a first-round bye in the consolation bracket.
Once the bye was over, Power then topped Pagosa Springs’ Caleb Janowsky by a 5-0 decision before winning in a tiebreaker-1 over Delta’s Stephen Davingnon, 6-5.
Power closed regionals by topping Olathe’s Caleb Jolley in the third-place match by a 3-2 decision.
Grand Valley’s Anthony Serna won the 106-pound division, securing a state tournament appearance, while teammates JT Latham (113) and Evan Hoff (220) locked up state tournament spots with third-place finishes.
For Basalt, Olmer Marquez (220) will head to the state tournament as well, thanks to a fourth-place finish at regionals.
The Colorado High School Athletic Association state wrestling tournament gets under way, Thursday, at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
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