Rifle wrestlers come up big at Warrior Classic | PostIndependent.com

Rifle wrestlers come up big at Warrior Classic

Phil Sandoval
Grand Junction Correspondent
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado ” Tad Davis would never admit it, but the Rifle High heavyweight appeared to take a cue from the crowd to earn the big guys’ Warrior Classic title.

Locked up in a 1-1 third period tie with Gerald Trujillo, a bored spectator yelled out ‘do something’ in the direction of the two heavyweights.

As if commanded to do so, Davis responded to the challenge.

With 48 seconds left in regulation, Davis forced his Pueblo Centennial opponent into giving up a takedown. “He wasn’t doing anything. He was just learning on me, so I just shot in on him,” said Davis of the takedown that swayed the match to the Bears senior.

Up 3-1, Davis kept applying pressure, following up his newly-gained advantage with a finishing move to pin Trujillo at the 5:18 mark for the win.

“It feels good,” said Davis of earning his first Warrior Classic championship after finishing fourth last year. Although, he’s pleased about his early season success, where he’s gone unbeaten in 12 matches, Davis has a bigger goal in mind: “This was just one step. The next step is becoming a state champion.”

James Conrardy knows that plan well. From the first time he donned a Rifle singlet four years ago, he’s been among the favorites to earn multiple Warrior Classic and state championships.

In the past, Conrardy’s route to championship glory had hit a few unexpected bumps. Until Saturday night.

Clinging to a precarious 8-6 lead against Justin Schumacher of Green River, Wyo., Conrardy kicked his game up a notch, scoring back-to-back, three-point near falls, to coast to the 140-pound title on a 14-6 decision.

“Every year here I always seemed to get stuck in the semifinals or the quarterfinals,” he said of past Warriors performances. Winning both the quarters and semis this year Conrardy sensed this tournament was going to be different.

“When I won those two matches to get into the finals, I knew this was the year everything would change,” Conrardy said. “I had a lot more confidence out there.”

Watching teammate Brian Key pin Travis Cary of Roosevelt to win the 215 pound championship and Davis winning a individual title earlier gave Conrardy more fuel to win.

“Brian pinned his kid and Tad pinned his too. So they were kind of on my back,” he said. “I tried to pin him, but, he’s a good wrestler,” Conrardy said of Schumacher.

Facing returning champion Colton Huskey of Dove Creek for the 152-pound title, Grand Valley junior Ryan Gallegos, making his first appearance in a Warrior Classic title match fell 10-5. Huskey took charge quickly, zipping out to a 8-2 lead after the first period, raising his seasonal record to 14-0.

It was Gallego’s third loss in 12 matches this year.

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