Rifle grapplers exact revenge, finish second
Post Independent Staff
RIFLE ” At times, a little revenge is all a wrestling team needs to get motivated.
Rifle’s wrestlers used Saturday’s Bear Invitational to fuel their emotions, while evening the score against opponents they had lost to in earlier meets and posting one of their best team performances to date.
“There was some motivation there,” said Rifle coach Jim Suminski of the team’s effort.
But, considering Saturday’s tournament included five teams ranked in the state’s top 10, and 16 wrestlers currently rated among the state’s top four at various weights, the coach admitted surprise to finishing as the runner-up team.
“We were giving up three weights and I didn’t know where it would all pan out, but I’m real happy with the finish,” Suminski said.
In the team competition, Rifle won all three of its dual meets and racked up 88 points. Moffat County, the 2003 Class 4A state champ, won the team title with 100 points.
Individually, the Bears advanced 10 wrestlers to the semifinals, won two individual crowns, two runner-up trophies and four third-place medals.
That half of the tournament is where the revenge factor came in.
In the 119-pound championship match, sophomore Luke Wooten avenged a loss last season to Moffat County’s Eric Fredrickson with a dominating 8-2 decision over his Bulldog opponent.
“It was payback time,” Wooten said. “I just wore him down a little bit, then I went for his leg.”
The strategy worked.
After dueling to a 2-all tie after two periods, Wooten gained the upper hand by escaping Fredrickson’s hold twice in the third period and scoring a two-point takedown with 1:26 remaining.
Advancing to the 125-pound championship match allowed Rodney Long a chance to redeem himself from last week’s loss in Pueblo to Grand Junction Central’s Jesse Benyon.
“That’s all I wanted was revenge, because we’ve been fighting all year,” Long said. “He beat me at Delta, I beat him at the Warrior Classic, he beat me at Pueblo and now I beat him here, I’m glad I evened it up.”
“Rodney’s only lost to two guys this year and two of those losses were to that kid from Central. He was winning at Pueblo and then he was head-thrown by him, so there was some motivation there,” noted Suminski.
On Saturday, Benyon never had a chance to get started.
Long extended a 5-1 early lead into a 12-1 major decision.
“There was no different strategy from last week,” Long said. “I just wrestled the best I could.”
Senior Jesse Long, who got a late start on the season after suffering a back injury during a November car accident, continues to improve.
After losing to Pueblo West’s Craig Maurello in a dual meet, Long earned a 7-4 decision over the Class 4A No. 1-ranked 160-pound wrestler in the individual semifinals for a shot at the weight’s tournament title against Nucla’s Brandon Morris.
Morris, the top 160-pounder in Class 2A, defeated Long 7-4 in the finals.
Junior Tyson Thompson was the 135-pound runner-up. Four Rifle wrestlers ” Eddie Kreimier (103), Tyler Thompson (112), Casie Dunlap (152) and Josh Gomez (189) ” earned third-place medals.
Timmy Long and Tyler Cose took fourth place at 130 and 140 pounds, respectively.
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