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3A state wrestling: Rivas reels off an upset for Rifle

Jon Mitchell
jmitchell@postindependent.com
Rifle High senior Alex Rivas
Jon Mitchell / Post Independent |

DENVER — The first-round victory for Rifle High School senior Alex Rivas in the Class 3A State Championships on Thursday might have been a surprise to many.

For Rifle coach John Wisniewski? Not so much.

“It’s not quite as surprising to me simply because I know what he’s capable of,” the Rifle coach said. “That was just a good, solid win. He kept himself in the match the entire time and give himself a chance.”

Rivas, the No. 15 seed in the 16-wrestler bracket at 170 pounds, showed exactly what he’s capable of on Thursday. With his 7-3 victory against second-seeded Julian Gallegos of Dolores Huerta, Rivas pulled off one of the biggest upsets of Thursday’s first round to became the first of two Rifle High wrestlers to move into the quarterfinal round of their respective brackets.

“I already saw two of my teammates get pinned before I went out there,” said Rivas, who was still trying to catch his breath five minutes after winning his match. “I knew I didn’t want that. I just went out there and wrestled.”

Rivas will join Rifle senior heavyweight Jose Prado in today’s quarterfinals, which begin at 10 a.m. today at the Pepsi Center. Semifinals for all classifications will start at 7:15 p.m. today.

Rivas (29-11) allowed just a takedown early in the second period and an escape from Gallegos (28-5) late in the second, which sent the match into the third period tied at 3-3. Rivas took the lead for good when Gallegos was called for stalling, followed with an escape to go up by two points with close to a minute remaining and, finally, scored a takedown to distance himself at the end.

The victory send Rivas into this morning’s quarterfinals against University’s Justin Anderson (29-10), who pinned Mullen’s Michael Ibarra in 5 minutes flat in their first-round match.

Meanwhile, Prado quickly made sure that his first-round match didn’t go the distance, pinning another Dolores Huerta wrestler — Manuel Santos — in 58 seconds. Prado (33-6) was in control from the start against the overmatched Santos, who never got much of a chance to score.

“Something opened up, I saw it, and I took advantage of it,” Prado said. “Personally, I love taking shots and setting the tone, which is different from a lot of heavyweights.

“Overall, though, I’m just trying to get over that hill to make it to the top of the podium,” the Rifle heavyweight continued. “This was just a first step toward that.”

Two other wrestlers from Rifle, along with Coal Ridge’s lone wrestler in the tournament, will try today to reach the podium through the consolation bracket following their first-round losses on Thursday.

Zach Wisniewski (19-17) had the toughest draw of the bunch in facing the top seed at 160 pounds in Weld Central’s Dalton Roberts. He nearly went the distance, but Roberts finally netted a pin against the Rifle senior with 36 seconds remaining in the match.

David Fugita, a Rifle senior who came into the tournament as the No. 10 seed at 138 pounds, was pinned by Arnoldo Maltos-Garcia in 1:46. He, like Wisniewski, will wrestle again when the consolation bracket matches begin immediately after the 3A quarterfinal matches finish up.

“A 2-2 record isn’t bad,” coach Wisniewski said. “This is obviously a do-or-die situation for them, but they’re good kids who aren’t going to worry about that process too much.”

Coal Ridge’s Nick Carbone, the 13th seed in the 182-pound weight class, went just past the halfway point in his match against Salida’s Nate Lowe, the bracket’s No. 3 seed. Carbone was pinned at the 3:15 mark and dropped into today’s consolation bracket.


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