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3A wrestling: Bears look to put pressure on at state meet

Jon Mitchell
jmitchell@postindependent.com

RIFLE — For three of the four Rifle High School wrestlers who are competing in the Class 3A State Championships this weekend, this will be their first chance to perform under the bright lights of the Pepsi Center in Denver.

One of those guys — David Fugita — feels like he’s gotten a taste of that already.

“In a way it kind of makes me feel like all of the other guys who have been to state already,” said the 138-pound Rifle senior, speaking of the Class 3A Region 4 Tournament this past weekend where he was seeded first in his weight class. “I kind of helps you to see what that pressure is like.”

Fugita and the rest of the Bears will see first hand what that pressure is like starting at 3 p.m. today when the state tournament begins with its first-round matches. Also competing in the tournament from a Garfield County school is Coal Ridge’s Nick Carbone, who will compete in the 182-pound weight class.

Carbone, a senior who enters the tournament as the No. 13 seed in his weight class, will take his 19-14 record into his first-round match against fourth-seeded Nate Lowe of Salida (27-8).

Fugita (30-8 this season), who wound up finishing third in his weight class after a loss in the regional semifinals, will be joined by 170-pounder Alex Rivas (28-11) and 160-pounder Zach Wisniewski (19-16) — each of whom are also making their inaugural state-tournament appearance. Making his third appearance in the state tournament, however, is Rifle senior heavyweight Jose Prado.

Rifle head coach John Wisniewski knows how exciting it is for his wrestlers to see the atmosphere that awaits them in Denver today. With that, the Bears are putting an extra emphasis of not just wrestling one match at a time.

“We don’t show the kids the bracket, but that’s not to say they’re not going to take a peek at it,” the coach said.

“Even so, we want them to focus on just one task at a time. That could mean one period at a time, one move at a time,” the coach continued. “Once we accomplish that, we can move to the next task. We don’t want the kids to get ahead of themselves.”

Each of those first-time wrestlers drew double-figure seeds. Prado, however, drew a No. 5 seed thanks to his 31-6 overall record.

Prado, Wisniewski said, actually did look ahead in the bracket and looked specifically at Delta senior Marcus Garcia, who drew the No. 4 seed and is on the opposite end of the 16-wrestler bracket.

Four of Prado’s six losses have come to Garcia, including a 1-0 setback in this past Saturday’s regional final and a 2-0 loss during a matchup at the Rumble in the Rockies Dual Tournament at Rifle High School back in January.

The tournament will continue on Friday and into Saturday, with state-championship matches scheduled for Saturday night. All matches will be at the Pepsi Center in Denver.


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