Bears take fifth place at state wrestling tourney
That best describes Rifle’s performance in the Class 4A division of the 67th annual state wrestling tournament held at the Pepsi Center in Denver last weekend.
The Bears concluded action in the three-day tournament by finishing fifth in the team standings and earned five state medals.
Both accomplishments are best-ever marks by a Rifle wrestling team at the state tournament.
The Bears ended the tournament with 82 team points, edging Fort Morgan by one point for fifth place.
Moffat County repeated as the 4A team champion for the second year in a row with 184 points. Adams City, with 101.5 points, was a distant second.
Alamosa (97.5 points) and Montrose (92) finished in third and fourth place respectively.
Ryan Whittington vaulted Rifle into fifth place by winning the 171-pound individual championship match on a 13-3 major decision over Valley’s Eddie Rodriquez.
“It feels great. You work so hard to get (a state championship), and when you finally get it. It’s just awesome,” said Whittington.
The feat’s especially awesome for the Bear senior, who wrestled his way to the 160-pound state championship match the year before, only to lose.
He won all four matches by huge margins, to go 37-1 on the year. Whittington’s only loss was to Jason Sams, the Class 3A, 171-pound champ from Roosevelt, at the Warrior Classic in December.
Whittington becomes Rifle’s 13th state champion.
Moreover, it marks the third year in a row a Rifle wrestler has earned a gold medal. Todd Jacobs won the 145-pound title at the 2001 state meet. Alfonso Alfini captured the 215-pound championship in the 1999-2000 season.
Junior Ryan Shoeppner and Shanon Squires, a senior, earned third place medals at 152 and 215-pounds, respectively.
Jesse Long and Anthony Alfini won fifth-place medals.
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