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14 head to state tourney today

Phil Sandoval
Post Independent Photo/Kara K. Pearson Rifle's Alex Avila grapples with Meeker's Sam Love in a dual meet earlier this season on Jan. 6. Avila qualified for the state tournament taking place at Pepsi Center starting today.
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RIFLE – Casie Dunlap has a curse he wants to get rid of.The Rifle High School senior admits it’s not the opponent that’s bothered him at past state wrestling championship meets.Rather, it was the environment of competing at the 18,000-plus-seat Pepsi Center in Denver which hindered Dunlap’s performance.”The last two years it seems like I have a curse at the Pepsi Center,” said Dunlap. “Last year I threw up before every match.”This year, after qualifying by taking second place at last week’s regional tournament in Montrose, Dunlap’s taken a different approach leading into the Class 4A 171-pound tournament.”It’s just you against the person and what you’re going to do,” he said. “You have to have control of the match to win.”

And Dunlap, who said, “I haven’t hit my peak yet,” hopes that he and the other eight Bear wrestlers rise to the occasion and bring home a state medal.”I think we’ll be as competitive as anyone in the state,” said Rifle head coach Jim Suminski. “We just have to get after it and wrestle the way we have the last couple of weeks. I think we’ll surprise some people.”At regionals, the Bears finished fourth as a team at the 12-school tournament, a half-point back of third-place Palisade and only 20 back of team champ Moffat County.Glenwood Springs High School’s Matt Aten, hot off winning the regional title at 152 pounds, is another wrestler who has a chance to make a big splash. He is the only wrestler to qualify from the Demons, who just restarted their program this season. Aten (23-5) squares off against Fort Lupton’s Brandon Grajeda (20-16) in the opening round.First-round matches for all 10 area Class 4A wrestlers start at 7:15 p.m. today. Opening round matches for Class 2A Grand Valley, which qualified four wrestlers, begin at 3 p.m. today.Dunlap, ranked No. 4 in the most recent “On the Mat” state wrestling poll, has drawn Ben Howarth, from Colorado Springs Widefield, as his first opponent in the double-elimination tournament. Luke Wooten, the 125-pound regional champion, squares off against Mario Espinoza, of Pueblo County, in the first round.

This is the third straight year Wooten has earned a spot in the state tournament. Rifle’s Eddie Kreimier is also making his third appearance at state. He wrestles Tony Mustari, of Greeley Central, in the 119-pound bracket on Thursday. Making the trip for the first time as competitors for Rifle are Alex Avila (103 pounds), Tyler Thompson (130), Timmy Long (135), Tyson Thompson (145) and Jeff Zimmerman (215).Grand Valley has one wrestler making his second trip to the big show in Chanse Brackett, who will compete in the 2A 189-pound division. Accompanying him to Denver are teammates Cody Miles (103), Danny Manzanares (135) and Justin Busch (145).The tournament continues all day Friday and winds up Saturday with Class 2A/3A consolation matches at 11 a.m. The 4A consolations begin at 12:30 p.m. Both tournaments immediately go into third- and fifth-place matches later that afternoon.At the completion of those matches, the building will be cleared for the parade of champions, followed by individual weight Class 2A-5A state championship matches at 6:30 p.m.

x2005 State Wrestling TournamentThursday-Saturday at Pepsi Center in DenverArea Class 4A qualifiersRifle – Alex Avila (103 pounds), junior, 21-13 record; Eddie Kreimier (119), senior, 25-14; Luke Wooten (125), jr., 28-4; Tyler Thompson (130), sophomore, 29-13; Timmy Long (135), so., 27-9; Tyson Thompson (145), sr., 12-5; Tyler Cose (152), sr., 25-15; Casie Dunlap (171), sr., 25-6; Jeff Zimmerman (215), sr., 22-8.Glenwood Springs – Matt Aten (152), sr., 23-5.Area Class 2A qualifiersGrand Valley – Cody Miles (130), freshman, 32-5; Danny Manzanares (135), so., 23-4; Justin Busch (145), jr., 30-9; Chanse Brackett (189), sr., 11-5.


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