Rifle wrestling drops tough dual against Green River (Wyo.)
The Rifle Bears’ wrestling team tangled with a formidable opponent on Thursday night, as the Green River Wolves dominated the scoring column for a 66-9 dual match victory at the Jack Smith Gymnasium.
It wasn’t until the fifth match of the evening when the Bears picked up their first win as senior Brian De La Rosa, wrestling at 160 pounds, ran his record to 10-1 on the season by scoring a technical decision early in the second period over Green River junior Brett McKeehan. De La Rosa was never seriously challenged as he raced out to leads of 7-0 and 12-0 before putting the finishing touches on McKeehan.
Rifle’s only other win of the match came in an exciting 126-pound match between Rifle sophomore Cauy Smith and the Wolves’ Kade Knezovich, also a sophomore.
The score was knotted at 2-2 after the first and second periods of wrestling concluded before Smith was able to score the final point of the contest for a 5-4 decision to help the cause of the youthful Rifle wrestling team. Smith ran his record to 11-2 overall.
“Our dual team is really young,” Rifle head coach John Wisniewski said. “We have three junior varsity guys we put in there to fill varsity positions, give them some experience, and to cut their teeth a little bit.”
The Bears nearly picked up a win in the first match of the dual as sophomore Conrad Demann battled hard, keeping things close early on, but ultimately falling in an 8-6 decision to Green River sophomore Jacob Weipert. Things went downhill a bit after that as Rifle would drop the next three matches, as 138-pounder Justin Hamrik was pinned by Green River junior Justin Flores with 32 seconds remaining in the first period. At 145 pounds, Rifle’s Dillon Tiffany lost a 13-1 decision to Nathan McCann and at 152 pounds, Rifle senior Taylor Flynn was pinned by Green River junior Tanner Adam.
At 120 pounds, Rifle freshman Bryan Soto went toe to toe with Green River junior Trea Fantin for most of the match, as Soto trailed 9-4 after two periods of wrestling. Fantin managed to get the pin just before time expired in the match, scoring 6 points for the Wolves.
Rounding out Rifle’s other matches, freshman Justin Henderson at 106 pounds, junior Pedro Guardado at 182 pounds, senior Pedro Carreon at 195 pounds and junior Jerod Henderson at 220 pounds all lost by pins. Rifle did not have wrestlers competing at the 113-pound, 170-pound or the heavyweight (285-pound) division.
“I’m pleased with how we wrestled tonight, but a little discouraged with our aggressiveness,” Wisniewski said following the matches. “We need to build more confidence in the wrestling room. Conditionwise, we are there. We just need to work more on technique. These matches are our tests. Regionals is what really matters, though.
Wisniewski, who was a state runner-up while wrestling at Rock Springs (Wyo.) High School, saw a familiar face across the mat as he was coaching against his brother, Green River’s Josh Wisniewski, who was a state champion at Rock Springs.
Rifle will be back on the mat Friday and Saturday in the Warrior Classic wrestling tournament at Grand Junction Central High School.