Rifle, Glenwood rev up for 4A action | PostIndependent.com

Rifle, Glenwood rev up for 4A action

Baron Zahuranec
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Theo Stroomer/ Special to the Post Independent

RIFLE, Colorado ” After placing third at regionals and 18th at state, the Rifle Bears grapplers look to improve on both of those marks. They’ll be using the experience of seven seniors to lead the way through the 4A WSL.

“We’re looking all the way at the state championship,” said fourth-year head coach John Wisniewski. “I think we have an incredible team, and with seven seniors we’re going to have great leadership and all-around strong wrestlers.”

While the Bears lost Branton Brown and Abe Dennis to graduation, the returning wrestlers should be in fine shape.

Seniors James Conrardy, Brian Key, Tad Davis, Jacob Counts, Kiefer Deere, Dano Fugita and Kyle Coombs will hit the mat for their final high school year.

The team still has youngsters (sophomores) Larry Schmueser, Marcus Arroyo and Keaton Deere and juniors James Martinez, Matt Barrett, Tyler Davis and Eagle Valley transfer James Harvey.

Conrardy, wrestling at 135 pounds last season, took third place in his bracket at the state championships; 189-pound Key was out in the fourth round; 103-pound Schmueser made it to three matches before being ousted; and 119-pound Martinez and 215-pound Tad Davis were out after two matches.

“This preseason we’ve all been wrestling strong,” Wisniewski said. “They put in two hours every day after school.”

This weekend, the Bears head to their first matches of the season at the Fruita Tournament.

“Central is tough every year,” Wisniewski said. “They’re probably the team to beat. Palisade will be up there, too. Last year, we placed second and lost to Central basically by one match. This year, we’re gunning for first in all of our tournaments.”

To gear up for Fruita, this week in practice the team worked a lot on the top position and pinning combos.

“I try to instill that the best way is to get a pin,” Wisniewski said. “We’re going to be working hard on those combos and getting them flattened out to get the pin. We’re going to show no mercy.”

This season, the team’s strength is clearly the senior leadership, he added.

“They’ve been around the block a few times, and they know how this whole thing works. Most of my guys have made it to state, so they know what they’re doing,” he said.

The Bears are in the 4A Western Slope League and will have to battle it out against the likes of perennial tough teams Montrose, Palisade and Moffat County.

“Moffat keeps graduating seniors, but every year they’re able to field a great team,” Wisniewski said. “I think our scariest opponent is Roosevelt. They’re returning, I think, nine state qualifiers and six or seven place winners. We know they’re good, but they’re really one of the unknown forces since we haven’t seen much of them.”

Roosevelt moved up from 3A last year, and now will be in 4A.

Wisniewski thinks one of the hardest things about coaching wrestling is not being able to help an athlete during his match. It’s all up to them.

“I’m watching the wrestlers out there, and they’re trying their hardest but end up losing,” he said. “You want every athlete to succeed, so you have to go back and ask yourself, ‘How can I make each individual wrestler better?'”

He’ll have a chance to do that after this weekend’s action, as the team prepares for their first home meet of the year, which is Dec. 11 against Montrose. The JV starts at 6 p.m., followed by varsity at 7 p.m.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The Glenwood Springs Demon wrestlers are in somewhat of a rebuilding year, having lost five solid seniors, but they have juniors and seniors who are expected to step up. This year’s team might be young, but that could be good news for this season and on down the road.

The 4A Western Slope League Demons have 33 wrestlers showing up on the mat after school each day; 18 are freshmen and 10 haven’t wrestled before, assistant coach Miles Cook said.

In the past, the Demon coaches haven’t had a squad with this many athletes. Their numbers were so low that they’d have to plug kids into weights where they hadn’t wrestled before.

“We can fill the weights, but not necessarily with the experience that we’d like,” head coach Guy Brickell said. “It’s exciting to have all these young kids out here who are showing a real desire to know how to wrestle. If they stay with the program, we should be in pretty good shape for a few years.”

Last year, the Demons took seventh at regionals and 29th at state. To graduation they lost 171-pounder Tyler Rossow, who made it to the fourth round at state, 189-pounder Nick Croissant and 160-pounder Lance Tsosie, who were both out in the third round.

To combat those losses the Demons return seniors Hunter McCallum, Greg Mills (119 pounds), Greg Orosz (heavyweight), and juniors Vincent Tsosie (130 pounds), Taylor Parsons (140 pounds) and Chris Ayala (160 pounds).

The team looks to be shaping up pretty well, Cook and Brickell said, but some of the Demon wrestlers said they wanted to get better on their feet.

McCallum, a captain, didn’t make state last year, but was happy with how he performed. This year, he plans on wrestling at 145 pounds, though he’s around 160 now.

“I’ve been working hard the last four years, and now’s the time it’s going to pay off,” he said. “My weakness is on my feet, but I have a lot of trust in my coaches to help me smooth that all out. I’m just going to have to spend more time on that area.”

“They just need some more mat time,” Brickell said. “The more that we work on their footwork, the better they’re going to feel out there.”

Juniors Cole Ullom (130 to 135 pounds) and Tsosie plan to use their speed to their advantage, but just like McCallum, they want their footwork to be better.

“I’m pretty good on top, but my feet need to be cleaned up,” Tsosie said.

“I’d say I’m a scrappy wrestler with good speed,” Ullom said. “My feet are okay, but I do want to get better when I’m up, and I’m still working on some of my bottom moves.”

One wrestler who likes his footwork is senior Greg Orosz, who’s spent four years in the program. Last year, he was the regional heavyweight champion and was knocked out in the third round at state.

“When I’m out there, I think I’m faster than a lot of the other heavyweights,” he said. “I have better footwork than them, but I’m not too good at getting off my back. But that’s changing.”

In practice this week leading up to the first matches at the Eagle Valley tri meet Thursday and Saturday’s Golden Duals team tournament the team has stressed fundamentals, Cook said.

“A lot of our returning varsity players were on the football team, so we’re still working at getting them back into the swing of things,” he said. “We’re going to focus on competing since we have a lot of green kids. Practice is nice, but it’ll be even better when we get into the live matches.”

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