Bloody nose doesn’t slow GJ’s Rider in championship match

Grand Junction’s Josiah Rider tries to shake Cherry Creek’s Matt Finesilver from his back Saturday night in Rider’s 5-3 victory in the 152-pound state title match in Denver. Rider had to take numerous timeouts to stop his nose from bleeding, but won his first state crown.

DENVER — It was a bloody mess. But it was a bloody win.

And in the state finals, that’s all that counts. When the clock reached zero, Josiah Rider was ahead of Cherry Creek senior Matt Finesilver 5-3, and that made the Grand Junction High School sophomore the Class 5A champion at 152 pounds Saturday night at the Colorado state wrestling tournament.

In the end, that’s all that matters.

“You don’t get style points for winning,” Tigers wrestling coach Cole Allison said. “It doesn’t matter if you win 5-2, 5-3, whatever. The only thing that matters is you were ahead at the end, and you’re a state champion.”

But it was not pretty, because once Rider’s nose started bleeding, it would not stop. He had to take his first timeout for blood 46 seconds into the match, and there were six more blood timeouts to come. A couple of times during stoppages, Rider headed to the center of mat to resume action only to turn right back around to replace the cotton plugs that had just been put in.

“We’re shoving two plugs up each nostril as far as we can get them, and (blood is) still getting through,” Allison said.

It didn’t affect Rider’s breathing, but it made for a disjointed, frustrating match for both wrestlers. Rider said he couldn’t get in any rhythm, that the match seemed to be reduced to 30-second sprints.

Allison said matches like that are dangerous, but Rider said all of his years of wrestling came into play as muscle memory kicked in when the two actually could wrestle.

And when they wrestled for any length of time, Rider foiled Finesilver’s strategy and defeated him for the second time in eight days. Rider beat Finesilver in their regional final 7-5 the previous Saturday.

“Finesilver likes space, and Joe didn’t let him have it,” Allison said.

Rider was glad to see that’s what the much taller Finesilver wanted to do, saying it was a mistake by his opponent to keep pushing him away.

“I just knew I was going to get in his face the whole time,” Rider said. “He kept pushing me, pushing me, and all that did was open up shots for me.”

Rider got in deep on a single leg to score the first takedown 23 seconds into the match.

He led 2-1 after one period, then got an escape to take a 3-1 lead into the final period, which didn’t start until Rider took his final blood timeout.

Finesilver escaped 11 seconds into the period, but Rider got a takedown with 1:16 left for a 5-2 lead. Finesilver escaped again with six seconds left, but Rider then ran from him, accepting the stalling warning his actions drew.

The state title came a year later than everyone thought it would for Rider, who is ranked nationally and travels to tournaments across the nation. He lost in the quarterfinals as a freshman in part because he had the flu, and he was wrestling extremely light at 145 pounds. He was at a heavier weight, though, because he moved up, so his brother Isaac could move down to 138 and have a better shot at a state title as a senior.

The move paid off for Isaac, and Josiah doesn’t regret it, saying he would do it again and, “It was the right thing to do.”

“Being a four-time state champ isn’t going to change anything in my life,” Josiah said. “Winning four isn’t going to be any different than three for me in terms of going to college.”

Still getting his first state title accomplished a goal and made him a state champ along with his brother and his father, Trever Rider.

“It’s what I work for every year,” Josiah said, then added, “It’s no big deal. I’m going for worlds, and getting national championships is really what it’s about. But this builds my confidence up.”


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