Rifle High School’s Conrardy picks Mesa | PostIndependent.com

Rifle High School’s Conrardy picks Mesa

Baron Zahuranec
Rifle Correspondent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kara K. Pearson Post Independent

RIFLE, Colorado ” There’s a little less weight on his shoulders now that he knows where he’ll be attending college.

But something else is on his mind ” a state championship.

Rifle High School wrestler James Conrardy has one last chance to nab a state championship in his senior season. He’s been oh-so-close the last three years, just missing out on a title and ending up with bronze each year.

Last season, Conrardy made it to the semifinals, but lost to the three-time defending state champion.

“I lost that one, but I pinned my way back to third,” he said. “That’s basically how it’s been the last three years. I’ll lose in the semis and then pin my way back.”

To make sure his future wrestling career is set, Conrardy signed a letter of intent to wrestle for Mesa State College last week.

“I don’t have to worry about the number of coaches at a tournament,” he said. “And, I don’t have to worry about securing a scholarship. It’s given me something to look forward to after (high) school.”

The 145-pound grappler doesn’t quite know how his competition will line up for this year, but likes his ” and the Bears’ ” chances at the state wrestling tournament.

Along with his title hopes, Conrardy wants to tack some more pins onto his school record. His freshman year he set the record with 22 pins, upped the record as a sophomore, and last year he had 28 pins.

Conrardy has wrestled since he was 6 years old, and he knew it was his sport from the start.

“My dad would ask me if I wanted to play football or baseball, and I always said wrestling,” Conrardy said. “I like it because it’s more of a one-on-one sport. It’s more about self-pride. If you lose you can’t blame it on anybody.”

Brothers Danny and Paul Martinez coached Conrardy when he first started wrestling. They both said he has an amazing drive and is highly competitive, but you wouldn’t know it talking to Conrardy. He speaks humbly about his accomplishments and owes his good fortune to the instruction he’s received.

“He has virtually all the aspects you want from a good athlete,” Paul Martinez said. “Off the mat, he’s one of the nicest kids to work with.”

On the mat, though, he’s a different animal.

“I can assure you on the mat he has the capability of peeling the mask off his face,” Danny Martinez said. “People fear him.”

Conrardy wouldn’t have made it this far without the help of the Martinezes, Danny Fugita, Larry Schmueser, his parents, Jim and Stacey, and sister, Brittanie.

“They do all the little stuff that matters,” he said about his parents. “They make my meals and make sure my clothes are ready to go. I know I can talk to them whenever I need to.”

“It’s exciting on one hand and nerve-racking on the other,” his father said. “We knew this day would come. It’s going to be whole different level for him.”

Conrardy said Schmueser has always been at the side of the mat to help him along, and Fugita administered some electroshock therapy on his injured shoulder last year.

Conrardy and his family have traveled to Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, Nevada, Kansas and New Mexico for tournaments and have been to camps in Arizona and Oklahoma.

“Through the road time, wrestling has brought the family together,” his mother said. “As a whole, the sport is awesome for the whole family, and it’s really built some character in James.”

Just talk to Conrardy. You’ll see it for yourself.

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