Paonia struggles, can still pick up plenty of consolation points

DENVER — Cody Rapke figured it was going to be a monumental challenge. The Paonia senior just hoped he could put up a fight for a little longer.

Rapke, the Eagles’ 152-pound entrant in the Class 2A state wrestling tournament, faced one of the favorites in the weight class Friday when he ran up against Fowler’s Donnie White in the semifinals.

Rapke lasted only 1:07 before getting pinned by White. It signified the start of a frustrating evening for the Eagles, who lost all three of their semifinal bouts but will have ample opportunity to pick up team points during the consolation rounds today at the Pepsi Center.

“I got caught in a stupid move and I knew it was coming,” Rapke said. “It should have been a much closer match. I think I could have taken him to the third. He’s a tough kid, one of the best in the state.

“He locked up a tight cradle and there wasn’t much I could do. Going in there as the underdog, I had nothing to lose. Now I just have to wrestle tough through the back door and hopefully win a medal.”

Paonia lost two more semifinal matches after Rapke was pinned and fell to seventh place in the team standings with 61 points.

Burlington leads Class 3A with 98 points.Paonia sophomore Morgan Rieder lost to Burlington’s Cole Briegel in the semifinals of the 189-pound division, getting pinned at the 3:30 mark. Heavyweight Zach Solaas met a fate similar to Rapke’s, getting pinned in less than one minute by Limon’s Chance Waite.

Although all three athletes were unable to reach the finals, it remained a strong effort for a trio of wrestlers who have not placed at state before. Each of those Eagles are only one win away from changing that.

“We didn’t get anybody into the finals, but we still have nine left in the back draw,” Paonia coach Andy Pipher said. “We’ve got nine in the back and they’re all going to have to wrestle back tough and see how high we can place.”

“Sure, it’s disappointing. Every one of them would like to win. But it’s the state tournament, and it’s a tough tournament. We knew we had tough matches coming down here, but I think they’ll wrestle back tough.”

Meeker sophomore J.R. Crawford turned in a solid effort in the 189-pound back draw after losing his quarterfinal match on Friday morning. Crawford won a second-round consolation bout against Ryan Mangum of Mountain Valley, setting up a third-round consolation match against Colton Wyatt of Ignacio today.

Meeker 112-pound freshman J.C. Henderson was eliminated after a 4-3 loss in a first-round consolation match against Devon Torgerson of Fowler.


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