Central wins SWL duals to claim league title
The young Central High School wrestling team took a beating most of the season, but those tough losses and hard lessons paid off Saturday.
Central swept its five league foes at the Southwestern League Duals to claim the league title in its home gym.
“The thing is my kids turned out to be tough,” Central coach Laurence Gurule said. “We had the schedule from hell. Our schedule helped. When we went to those tournaments, I’d say, ‘I want to see how tough you are.’ Some of those tournaments we didn’t do very well, but our kids saw how tough other kids can be.
“That’s why we wrestle the schedule we do. I’m just glad we didn’t have the injuries some of the other schools do.”
Fruita Monument finished second, going 4-1, despite missing three key wrestlers with injuries.
“I feel bad for the two Fruita boys (Isaac Rodriguez and Aidan Woomer) that didn’t get to wrestle,” Gurule said. “Those two are outstanding kids. If they would’ve been in there, maybe the outcome is different.”
Fruita coach Dan Van Hoose held out Rodriguez and Jared Seely with minor injuries. Woomer is out for the season with a shoulder injury (labrum tear).
“If we have my three guns, maybe it’s a 15-point swing,” Van Hoose said. “Central wrestled hard. I felt like we didn’t wrestle well, but it’s not that the kids didn’t wrestle hard.”
The Wildcats squeaked out a 38-37 victory over Grand Junction on the eighth tiebreaker — most first points scored. The teams tied 37-37 after the 14 matches, but a criteria was established three seasons ago to break ties.
Grand Junction placed third, Durango was fourth, Montrose fifth and Montezuma-Cortez sixth.
Central won the SWL title with three returning starters from last year’s SWL championship team — Jacob Rubalcaba, Jon Sullivan and Dusty Sanchez — and four seniors: Sullivan, Sanchez, Caleb Hendricks and Martin Paredes.
“I never would’ve thought that (the Warriors would win) because of our youth,” Gurule said. “My kids can take a butt-chewing and come back and work hard.
“It’s because of the work they do. It starts in the spring with workouts, and we did a lot of wrestling this summer.”
Rubalcaba, Soloman Jarman and Paredes earned first team all-conference recognition Saturday.
Rubalcaba tied for first at 126 pounds, but scored more team points to receive first-team honors.
Jarman earned his spot on the first team with his first victory over Grand Junction’s Jonathan Pauli, 8-6 in Central’s 40-33 victory over the Tigers.
“I told Soloman, ‘If you can get this kid to the third period, you might be able to do a good job,’ ” Gurule said. “I said a couple things to him on the mat. He said, ‘I got him.’ He wrestled tough.”
Pauli pinned Jarman in their previous two meetings.
“I was looking to wrestle as hard as I could and hope for the best,” Jarman said. “It made my pride shoot up.”
Paredes wrestled in his first tournament since returning from a school suspension, Gurule said.
“We were lucky to get Martin back,” Gurule said. “He did everything. He did fundraisers, and his grades were up. He did a wonderful job. Our principal saw everything good he was doing and let him back. Nobody associated with wrestling said he needed to be back on the team. It was people outside of wrestling.”
Grand Junction’s Jacob Trujillo wrestled up a weight class and kept his undefeated record intact, including a 14-4 victory over Class 4A’s No. 1-ranked Nick Tarpley of Durango.
“I was trying to wrestle some kids bigger and stronger to push myself before state,” Trujillo said. “It’s a good win. I expect that of myself.”
Both wrestlers were Warrior Classic champions in December.
“They feel heavier when you take a shot or when you’re below and trying to get up,” Trujillo said. “I didn’t take it any different, mostly using my speed and all the technique I have.”