Two Rifle wrestlers medal at Warrior Classic
GRAND JUNCTION – The medals Luke Wooten and Tim Long earned at the Warrior Classic were not the color the Rifle wrestlers had in mind. But looking at the big picture, both they and the Bears are more concerned about the postseason than what happens in December.”We have bigger fish to fry,” said first-year head coach John Wisniewski. “Our ultimate goal is winning a state championship and to be standing on the podium in February.” Still, the individual runner-up award Wooten earned in the 135 pound division and Long’s fifth-place medal at 152 are good accomplishments. Especially in a 33-team tournament which pits some of the best high school wrestling talents from three states in the same place for two days. Wooten, ranked third in the field of 135-pounders, blitzed his way to the winner’s bracket. After drawing an opening-round bye Wooten won his first three matches easily.The semifinals were a little tougher, but a 5-0 decision over Kyle Francis, of Monte Vista, gave Wooten and the fans a match they wanted – a championship decider against two-time Warrior champion Quinten Fuentes, of Roosevelt.It was a match in which Fuentes took quick control. The defending Class 3A champ fashioned a commanding 7-0 lead in the first period and won the match with less than a minute left with a 18-3 advantage.”You can’t take anything any from that kid,” Wisniewski said of Fuentes. “But, it was Luke’s first competition of the year.” Wooten missed Rifle’s first tournament two weeks ago due to a snowstorm and was absent last week because he was taking the SAT test.The route Long took to the fifth-place match took more time.A 12-2 semifinal loss to Joe LeBlanc, of Meeker, tossed the Bears junior back to the elimination bracket after going through his first three 152-pound tournament matches in relative ease, defeating each opponent by three or more points.Tim Frank, of Roosevelt, earned a 5-2 decision over Long to send him to the fifth-place match against Douglas County’s Eli Liechtenstein.Liechtenstein took an early lead on a tiring Long, who mentioned conditioning as a factor in why it took until the third period to take charge.”I had a lot of matches today,” he said. “Physically, I had to get it up against him.”Down 2-1 to Liechtenstein, Long scored a three-point near-fall in the final period to secure the win.”I had a chicken wing on him, and it was time to do something,” Long said of the move.”Timmy’s the type of wrestler that he knew that he had to get it done,” Wisniewski said.James Conrardy and Derek Fruetel advanced the furthest in the tournament among Rifle’s nonmedalists. Both wrestlers were eliminated in fourth-round consolation matches.Conrardy finished 3-2 overall in the tournament. Two of his three victories in the 103-pound division came off pins.The Bears freshman nailed Tim Jeter, of Montezuma-Cortez, in 26 seconds in a second-round consolation bracket match, then knocked off Moffat County wrestler Craig Gearhert in 3:50 before getting eliminated by Jimmy Benevides, of Eagle Valley, in a 12-4 decision.Fruetel earned back-to-back 145-pound championship bracket wins by a 9-3 decision over Jerad David, from Montrose, then pinned Olathe’s Jesus Suarez before getting pushed back to the elimination bracket after losing to Korey Koster, of Moffat County, in a quarterfinal match. Freutel was out of the tournament when he lost a 6-2 decision against Central’s Alex Lybarger.Branton Brown and Tim Scott, in the 130- and 171-pound weights, respectively, earned two wins each in the consolation bracket before getting eliminated.
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