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Rifle grapplers holding strong at state comp

DENVER ” One match down ” two more wins and five area prep wrestlers will be contending for a state championship.

It’s become the collective mindset to a quintet of Rifle High grapplers who resume their climb toward that goal today at the Pepsi Center.

James Conrardy, Luke Wooten, Derek Fruetel, Tim Long and Tyler Thompson advanced to state Class 4A championship quarterfinals by winning their respective first-round matches Thursday.



Skill had a lot to do with each of Rifle’s victories. Yet, it was the fear of not advancing on to a championship match that was on the mind of at least one Bears wrestler.

“I knew that if I lost one match, there would be no state title for me,” Conrardy said after his 112-pound match against Alameda’s Corey Valle.



After gaining the lead on Valle with a first period escape followed by a takedown, the Rifle freshman had no worries.

“I felt confident after scoring (with those moves), because I was scared at the beginning of the match,” he said. From then on, everything Conrardy tried “just clicked,” he explained.

The match ended when Conrardy pinned Valle with 56 seconds left in the second period. His victory sets up a championship quarterfinal match with Berthoud freshman Gaden Sadio, who upped his win-loss record to 34-6 Thursday.

Wooten was also clicking in his opener with Sand Creek’s Manual Martinez.

The Bears’ 130 pounder polished off Martinez in two minutes, 34 seconds.

“A pin or winning by tech fall ” that’s how I want every match of mine to go,” Wooten said afterwards.

The toughest part of wrestling Martinez for Wooten was not being able to get his arm free at the start of the match. “Trying to do everything with just one arm is just not possible,” he noted.

A minute into the match, Wooten freed his arm. And, he started scoring at will.

Wooten held a 15–0 lead prior to earning the win. Next up, he’ll face James Giggy from Alameda.

Juniors Derek Fruetel and Tim Long dominated their first-round matches. Neither of their respective opponents scored until late in the third period.

Fruetel advances to a 145-pound quarterfinal showdown against Greeley Central freshman Brice Wolf by downing Colorado Springs’ Liberty sophomore Brandon Martz, 11-7.

Long, one of the top 152-pound wrestlers in Colorado, faces Northridge junior Lance Miajares after winning a 14-2 major decision over Pueblo South’s Chris McWhorter.

Thompson, a 12-7 winner against Kohl Martin of Windsor, draws Bryce Clemmer (37-7) as a quarterfinal opponent in the 160-pound division.

Both of Glenwood Springs’ state qualifiers have to fight their way back to medal contention in the consolation bracket, where a loss eliminates them from the tournament.

Demon Blake Newby wrestles Ryan Talmich of Sand Creek in a 112-pound consolation match. On Thursday, the Demons sophomore was pinned by Pine Creek’s Kory Johnson.

Mike Zerfoss, the Demons heavyweight who got into the tournament when Western regional champion Blaine Sumner was declared ineligible to participate, absorbed a 9-1 loss to Tim Saucedo from Northridge.


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