Not playing it safe: Rapke’s key victory lifts Paonia past Grand Junction

Grand Junction’s Keenan Hall peers through the tangled arms and legs of Paonia’s Dustin Braslin on Thursday in the Eagles’ 37-28 victory. Braslin defeated Hall 9-2 in the 140-pound match.

Cody Rapke knew all he had to do was not give up a pin.

The Paonia High School senior, though, wrestled to win. He defeated Grand Junction’s Gage Casey 22-11 to seal the Class 2A sixth-ranked Eagles’ 37-28 victory over Class 5A 10th-ranked Grand Junction on Thursday night at Brownson Arena on the campus of Mesa State College.

“I pretty much knew all I had to do was not get pinned and we’d win the dual, but I wanted to get a win,” Rapke said. “There was a lot of scoring. It was a lot of fun. At the end, he’s was trying to throw me for a pin. I was trying not to go to my back. It was a good match.”

The Eagles won eight matches, including three by pin and one by forfeit.

“We wrestled fair,” Paonia coach Andy Pipher said. “I felt a couple of those matches that could’ve gone either way I would’ve liked to have won.

“We were a little tired this week. We had a lot of hard wrestling in the room this week, but the big thing is to get ready for next week.”

Paonia wrestles in the Class 2A regionals next weekend to qualify for the state tournament in two weeks.

The Eagles won four of the first five matches to build an 18-3 lead.

Paonia sophomore Morgan Reider won a pivotal match at 189 pounds when he pinned Grand Junction freshman Robbie Gonzalez in 1:33 for a 9-0 lead. “I beat him once at the beginning of the season, then he beat me. It was nice to come back and catch him (again),” Reider said. “I wanted to make sure I didn’t get caught (on my back).  I took a shot and caught him on his back.”

Paonia heavyweight Zach Solaas won 6-1, then 103-pounder Isaac Ferguson pinned Jac Harper in 3:08 for an 18-3 lad.

Grand Junction, though, mounted a rally, winning four consecutive matches to take a 23-18 lead.

It started with freshman Jeff Christeleit, who pinned Paonia’s Dillon Bowman in his first varsity match.

“Christeleit found out an hour before weigh-ins he was wrestling tonight,” Grand Junction coach Cole Allison said. “We were expecting him to go to his back and get stuck. That was the highlight of the night.”

Christeleit wrestled in place of Rory Wick, who will wrestle at 119 pounds on the junior varsity.

Dylon Thompson followed with a pin at 119, then Chase Arrieta defeated Cody Clawson by technical fall in 5:21. JC Archuleta capped the run with a 8-1 win at 130.

“We wrestled tonight,” Allison said. “We’re not solid enough to give up falls and make mistakes. The swing match in that dual was at 189s.”

Paonia regained the lead with wins by Adrian Lopez and Dustin Braslin at 135 and 140 pounds.

Grand Junction’s top-ranked Jessie Hoffschneider won by technical fall at 145 before Rapke clinched the win.

Paonia won by forfeit at 160.

Palisade 38, Delta 35: The Class 4A 10th-ranked Bulldogs had three pins and two forfeit victories to defeat No. 7 Delta on the road.

Eddie Vial (160), Zach Judis (171) and Joey Dupre (285) each picked up six team points with pins. Justin Ray (119) and Daniel Salazar (130) won major decisions.

Morgan McCracken (140) and Dylan Taylor (152) had pins for the Panthers. Nathan Trujillo (145) and Shane Anderson (112) won by technical fall.


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