Back in the swing of things: Wildcat Invite allows rusty wrestlers chance to improve

Fruita Monument’s Logan McNulty, right, grimaces as hestruggles with Palisae’s Terry Williams during the 145-pound bout of Saturday’s dual match at Fruita. McNulty bested Williams 5-0.

Wrestlers rely on timing and precision to be successful.

But with an extended break, some of those needed skills can become rusty.

Saturday at Fruita Monument High School, the Central, Palisade, Fruita Monument, Rifle, and Gunnison high school wrestling teams all saw their first live action on the mat this season in the Wildcat Invitational.

“Dual tournaments are good because every kid gets to wrestle every round,” Fruita Monument coach Jim Stockert said. “It’s a good tournament for us.”

Fruita won the tournament title by defeating Rifle 51-22, Gunnison 57-13, Central 49-21 and Palisade 46-22.

Stockert said it was a good day by his team.

“We have a good group of upperclassmen, and we thought we would be pretty competitive,” Stockert said. “It was a good opener for us, and a good gauge to find out what we need to work on.”

One of the Wildcats’ upperclassmen is heavyweight Twan Martin, who went 4-0 in his matches — three first-round pins and an 8-5 decision over Central’s Mical Kramer.

“For some of us older guys, these matches are good to get rid of some of the cobwebs and get back into the groove,” Martin said. “But for the younger guys, it can be a learning experience.”

Most coaches and teams shared the thoughts of Martin and Stockert, saying the Wildcat Invite provides a lot of different looks, and is a good way to begin the season.

Palisade coach Brian Rush said he took a lot away from the season opener.

“No matter where you placed, everyone is going to focus on where they need to be,” Rush said. “We saw some good things, but there are a lot of things we need to correct.”

The Bulldogs had their ups and downs on the day, defeating Gunnison 63-12 and Rifle 48-27, but losing Central 42-28 and Fruita Monument 46-22.

“It went OK, but not as good as we wanted,” Palisade 119-pounder Daniel Salazar said. “It was all little rusty things, like hip position and not going to our back.”

Central took second in the tournament, defeating Gunnison 58-17, Rifle 40-33 and Palisade 42-28. In the final dual of the day, Central lost to Fruita Monument 49-21.

Kramer said the Warriors’ approach to early season matches is more about improving than earning wins.

“The way we see it is nothing matters until regionals and state,” Kramer said. “But these matches are good because you can hit moves full-speed and work on intensity.”

The lone District 51 team not at the Wildcat was Grand Junction, which wrestled at the Liberty Bell Tournament at Heritage High School. The Tigers finished third out of eight schools. Grand Junction got first-place finishes from Dylon Thompson (112), Chase Arrietta (119) and Jesse Hoffschneider (140).

“It was a good opening tournament for us,” first-year Grand Junction coach Cole Allison said. “It was a good mix of good teams and good wrestlers.”

Other top Tiger placers included third-place finishers Caleb Whitman at 189 and Gage Casey at 145.


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