Oscar Ruiz lifts Central to SWL wrestling title
Oscar Ruiz is supposed to be rehabbing a knee injury, but he wasn’t going to give up his senior wrestling season.
The Central High School 113-pounder returned to the mat one month ago, just in enough time to make an impact.
“I wasn’t supposed to come back, but this is my team,” Ruiz said. “I love them. I needed to come back.”
Ruiz went 5-0, including a 9-3 victory over Grand Junction’s Jeff Christeleit, to lead the Warriors to the Southwestern League title on Saturday at Grand Junction High School.
Central won the SWL wrestling title for the first time since Laurence Gurule became the head coach in 1999.
“Oscar did a great job,” Gurule said. “He had a late start to the season because he got hurt, had surgery and had to sit out. I spoke with doctor, he said, ‘Laurence, he shouldn’t wrestle, but he talked me into it. I guarantee you he’s going to come see me when the season’s over.’
“He’s that kind of kid. He’s going to sacrifice whatever he’s got to sacrifice for the good of the team. I had some kids do that today.”
Central’s 35-34 victory over Grand Junction clinched the league title. The Warriors and Tigers tied 34-34, but Central won on the second criteria, number of pins or forfeit wins.
The dual came down to the final match at 152 pounds, featuring two wrestlers who moved a weight class for the dual.
Central’s Isaiah Reyez, who weighed in at 153, moved down from 160, where he usually wrestles.
Grand Junction’s 145-pounder Alex Martinez moved up instead of wrestling Anthony Feller at 145.
Reyez took control early and had a 10-2 lead, enough for a major decision to tie the match, but Martinez nearly put Reyez on his back before Reyez escaped and pulled away for a 14-2 victory. His major decision gave Central four team points to tie the dual 34-34.
“I had to think about what I needed to do to put everything together,” Reyez said. “After wrestling Jacob Seely (earlier) this morning, it woke me up and got me ready for the rest of the day.
“Losing to Junction every year and taking second, we had a long talk last night. I’ve always lost to a Junction kid. Anybody can beat anybody, it doesn’t matter what weight you’re at.”
The top individuals in each weight class received first-team all-conference honors. Although Central won the team title, Ruiz was the Warriors’ only first-team all-conference wrestler.
“I’ve worked so hard for this,” Ruiz said. “I’ve been in the wrestling room since the second day of school. It’s a big deal to me. I’m glad I won it.”
Montezuma-Cortez had three all-conference wrestlers, Durango and Montrose two each. Fruita Monument had none.
Grand Junction took second in the team chase, but had the most first-team all-conference selections with six.
Jacob Trujillo (126), Louis Guillen (132), Dylon Thompson (138), Jessie Hoffschneider (170) and Dan Burns (220) all went 5-0. Gage Casey made the first team with a 4-1 record. His only loss came to Central’s Willy Holdren, who bumped up a weight class to defeat Casey.
Burns had to beat a nemesis in Central’s Jeremiah Stratton to go undefeated. He couldn’t contain his excitement.
“It’s a great feeling,” Burns said. “If you didn’t see me running around after the match… I was so excited. It was an awesome feeling, a feeling of accomplishment.”
Burns not only defeated Stratton, he pinned him in 4:20.
“I can’t say enough about Dan Burns in that dual (against Central),” Grand Junction coach Cole Allison said.
“He’s always a crowd favorite, but we had to tone him down in that one. You can’t be ripping wild, make a mistake and kill yourself. He stuck with the game plan and did the job.”