Conrardy tears meniscus, still moves on in Class 4A
DENVER — Rifle Senior grappler James Conrardy has dreamed of getting to the finals of the Colorado Class 4A State Championship and winning since his freshman year. A torn meniscus was not going to prevent him from reaching that goal.
The 140-pounder has reached the semifinals of the state tournament each of the past three years. Each year, however, he was knocked out of the semis and finished in third.
During a quarterfinal match Friday against Frederick’s grappler Tylar Parker, the meniscus in his right knee tore, leaving the senior in incredible pain and unable to straighten his knee.
Fortunately, Conrardy had built a sizeable lead before it tore, and he rode out the match for a 14-13 decision.
Conrardy, who committed to Mesa State College in November, had a four-hour break until the semifinals, leaving the training staff enough time to tinker with a tape job to determine the best way to leave the knee for the semifinals.
“We tried popping it out and popping it back in but that just wouldn’t work,” Conrardy said. “So we resulted to taping it and not allowing my knee to straighten out, and that seemed to help out tremendously.”
One minute into his semifinal match against Shea Bogardus from Mesa Ridge, he got his first test.
The two were hip-to-hip; Conrardy countered by stepping in front with his right leg and tossing Bogardus to the mat, resulting in a 20-second melee that left each wrestler on top, then quickly to the bottom. Conrardy ended on top for good, giving the senior the takedown and back points.
A second test came in the second period, when Bogardus shot in on a double-leg takedown and flipped Conrardy upside down in the air. Conrardy somehow latched onto Bogardus’ waist before he was slammed to the mat.
Again, another free-for-all ensued with Conrardy ending up on top of Bogardus who was laying on his back.
Conrardy won the match 15-8 to qualify for the finals for the first time.
“That’s just a gutsy performance,” Rifle coach John Wisniewski said. “He’s mentally tough, and he can withstand the pain.”
Conrardy wrestles Greeley West sophomore phenom Nathaniel Garcia, who came into the tournament 39-1.
Rifle heavyweight Tad Davis also won his semifinal match, pinning Greg Orosz from Glennwood in 2:31 to join Conrardy in the finals. Davis faces Justin Williams from Englewood, the top seed in the heavyweight division.
Justin Samora from Montezuma-Cortez reached the finals for the second straight year, beating Dan Barringer from Lewis-Palmer by technical fall in the third period.
“I’ve got some unfinished business from last year to take care of this time,” Samora said. “I’ve gotta wrestle tough, stay physical and stay calm.”
Samora wrestles undefeated Justin Gonzales from Northridge. Samora said the two have split the two matches they have wrestled before.
Palisade’s bid to be represented in the finals ended when junior Kelly Davis at 130 pounds was pinned by Dan Frank from Roosevelt. Frank is a two-time state champion and is looking for his third title this year.
The tournament continues with consolation rounds today at 11 a.m. The gates open for the finals at 5:30 p.m. at the Pepsi Center in Denver.