Bears will send six to state meet
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
CRAIG ” Coming off the mat, James Martinez wore an ear-to-ear grin as his teammates lined up to congratulate him with hugs.
He had just pinned the top-ranked 119-pound wrestler in Class 4A (according to On the Mat) ” Montezuma-Cortez’s Jesse Blakely ” and stolen a bronze finish from Saturday’s 4A Western Regionals wrestling tournament at Moffat County High School.
The Rifle sophomore had his trip to state in the bag entering his third-place match but, considering he had lost to Blakely earlier in the day and just returned to the mat after nursing a broken hand and back injury the past two months, he had extra reason to celebrate.
“It’s incredible,” said Martinez, who’ll be making the trip to the Pepsi Center in Denver for next weekend’s state wrestling meet for a second straight year. “It feels amazing.”
Martinez will have plenty of company in the form of teammates.
Five other Bears ” James Conrardy, Abe Dennis, Brian Key, Tad Davis and Larry Schmueser ” nailed down top-four finishes to earn a spot in Denver.
And one of those ” Conrardy ” left Craig a region champion.
Conrardy muscled through the 135-pound weight class bracket with three pins, including one in the final over Ralston Valley’s Matt Hutton.
Conrardy’s region title was the third in as many years for the junior, who won at 119 last year and at 112 as a freshman. He finished third at state both years and wants nothing less than first this year.
“I’m going to be more determined,” he said. “I don’t want to have that feeling of failure. It’s going to make me work even more.”
Dennis used three pins to make the finals before dropping a 13-4 decision to Delta’s Luke Laurita in the 160-pound title match, rendering the senior to second.
Davis narrowly missed out on a regional championship after making the 215 final. He couldn’t get past Palisade’s Caleb Sisneiros in the title match, though, losing 4-1.
Key wrestled to fourth at 189, going 2-2 on the weekend.
After dropping his third-place match, Schmueser needed a 1-0 wrestle-back win over Eagle Valley’s Colt Ewing to make state.
Rifle took third following Palisade and Montrose.
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