Small wrestler from Rifle lands big results in tourney |

Small wrestler from Rifle lands big results in tourney

Joelle MilholmGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Chad Spangler Post Independent

PEACH VALLEY, Colorado – Standing atop the first-place podium, 4-year-old Andrew Leyba tried with all his might to lift his newly-awarded trophy above his head. He couldn’t hoist it very high, but that was understandable as it was at least four-inches taller than him. The trophy was given to the Rifle wrestler at Saturday’s 2008 New Castle Gladiator Wrestling Tournament because he had been named the Northwestern Colorado Wrestling League’s Outstanding Wrestler in the 6 and under division.After Leyba stepped off the podium, he tried to take the trophy with him, but couldn’t quit lift it again. He didn’t care though.

“I like it,” he said.Leyba went 25-5 on the season and mostly wrestled against other 4-year-olds. He moved up to the 6 and under bracket for the tournament on Saturday and lost a few matches in the 40-pound division going against older kids. His season marks were still good enough to make him the first 4-year-old to win the 6 and under trophy.”He is a stud,” said Andy Schoeppner, one of the Rifle coaches, of Leyba. “He came in this year and just started kicking butt. He is real tough.”

Leyba was one of more than 40 kids on the Rifle wrestling team competing in the tournament, which was open to wrestlers ages 4-14 and hosted teams from all over the Western Slope.The league’s outstanding wrestler awards are given to the best grappler at each of the four divisions – 6 and under, 8 and under, 10 and under and 12 and under. New Castle wrestler Nathin Quills was the only other area wrestler to win one of the large trophies, as he earned it in the 10 and under division.While the top wrestlers were recognized, the tournament was more about getting kids to wrestle and have a good time. “As long as the kids have fun and wrestle, we don’t really care if they win or lose,” said Schoeppner, who coaches Rifle along with Roman Garcia and head Rifle High School coach John Wisniewski. “As long as they have a good attitude on and when they come off the mat. We have been teaching sportsmanship a lot this year.”

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