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Rifle team healthy and prepared

Joelle Milholm
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

RIFLE ” It hasn’t been an easy year for the Rifle wrestling team. Injuries and kids getting sick hampered the squad, making holes in its rotation that left the Bears forfeiting two or three matches every time they hit the mat with another team.

That isn’t the case anymore. Rifle is complete, with a healthy (or at least healthy enough) wrestler to fill each weight class. And it’s just in time for the Bears to show what they can do in the Class 4A Region 3 tournament at Moffat County on Friday and Saturday.

“That’s what I am so excited for, we finally have a full team,” said Rifle head coach John Wisniewski. “We have had injury after injury, but this is regionals and we have got to tape everyone and do whatever it takes to get on the mat. This is do-or-die time right now.”



That being said, the Bears aren’t looking to just to compete on the mats ” they are aiming for the title. And having five wrestlers ranked in the top 15 at the 4A level, according to On the Mat rankings, they have reason to be optimistic.

“I am hoping for a regional championship. That’s what the guys are looking to do,” Wisniewski said. “It is going to be really tough this year.”



With Cortez, Palisade and Montrose ranked in the top 12 in the team rankings, the competition is top-notch. Individually, there are 60 top-20 wrestlers competing from the region. Some weight classes, like 103, 112, 119, 125 and 130, have six top-20 wrestlers in Region 3. That’s going to make it tough for wrestlers to finish in the top four, which would qualify them for the state tournament in Denver on Feb. 21-23.

“They are really going to have to do something special just to get a state bid,” Wisniewski said of the wrestlers in the stacked weight classes.

To get ready for the stiff competition, Rifle will be fine-tuning this week and brushing up on the little things that need improvement.

“The biggest key for us is to eliminated the small, little mistakes we have been doing all year,” Wisniewski said.

Many times this season, the Bears have lost duals and individual matches because the other team scrambled out of holds and overcame deficits. That is something the Bears are looking to stop.

“We can’t let guys off the hook… we have got to win those scramble situations,” Wisniewski said.


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