Long wrestles to 4A 152-pound title
DENVER – Sitting in the front row of the Pepsi Center, Jesse Long’s hands were trembling.On the mat in front of him, his younger brother Tim had taken control of the Class 4A 152-pound title match. On top of Mullen’s Seamus Waples, Long had Waples’ arms bent back, shooting helplessly up into the air.All Long had to do was hold it for 30 seconds. And he did, winning the championship battle with an 8-4 decision.As the whistle blew, Jesse’s whole body began to shake. He’d just witnessed his brother take his advice and win a state title.”I just said, ‘Do what I didn’t do,'” Jesse, a former Rifle wrestler, said of what he told Tim before the match. “I was ranked No. 1 in state my senior year and I couldn’t do it, and he just did what I couldn’t do. That was awesome. It’s the best feeling in the world.”As the officials raised Long’s arm in the air, pronouncing him champion, tears filled the senior grappler’s eyes. Battling back from knee surgery in December and getting to his first title match, the Bear’s prep career was complete.”There was a couple weeks where I didn’t think I was going to wrestle,” Long said of his worries after knee surgery. “Everything has worked out perfectly for me. There is definitely someone looking after me.”When the match ended, and after hugging head coach John Wisniewski and assistant coach Alfonso Alfini, Long headed toward his brother for another hug. As he left the mat and entered the tunnel under the stands, he was met by teammates, friends and family – where tears continued to fall.”That’s the only reason why I made it through this is because of everybody.”Wisniewski, who has coached Long for more than 10 years, knew Long had won the match when he had secured Waples’ arms.”When he doubled up on those double chicken wings, that was beautiful,” said the coach. “Tim wrestled a smart, solid match. One of the best matches I’ve ever seen in wrestling. He’s finishing out in championship style.”Long took a two-point advantage early in the match, but Waples tied it on a reversal, a move Long knew Waples was skilled at.”I knew they said he would be really fast and really aggressive, so I just had to match him,” Long said.Long muscled out two more points, going up 5-4 entering the third period. After pulling the double chicken wing on Waples and holding him for the remainder of the match, Long was awarded three more points for an 8-4 win.Wisniewski, whose team finished seventh in the team standings with 76 points, said Long deserved to go out on top.”It’s been a privilege to coach him. He’s awesome, a very coachable kid,” he said. “The best thing about Tim is that he’s a gracious winner and he’s a gracious loser. Good things come to good people, and he’s good people.”
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Rifle High School wrestling won its matchup with Glenwood Springs Tuesday at the Glenwood triangular, while the Palisade Bulldogs took down both local teams.