Rifle gets some mat revenge, topping Palisade in WSL dual

The Rifle High School wrestling team made sure it wasn’t going to come down to one point this time.

On Saturday, squaring off against Palisade in its own invitational dual tournament, Rifle lost to Palisade 36-35.

In the one that counted for the Western Slope League, the Bears got the victories they needed down the stretch Tuesday to defeat the Bulldogs 43-30.

But it could have been closer. Rifle had the victory sewn up with one match to go, but its lead was only seven points.

In the 119-pound bout, Rifle’s Larry Schmueser solidified the victory with a pin of Kevin Martinez with two seconds remaining in the second period to give the Bears a bigger margin of victory.

As with Tuesday’s league dual, Saturday’s dual did not come down to the final match.

But the Bears, ranked in the top 10 in Class 4A by On the Mat all season, spent three days thinking about the loss.

“It was on everybody’s mind,” Rifle 140-pounder James Conrardy said. “We all knew what had to be done. It’s been eating at us.”

His coach, John Wisniewski, put that loss behind him a little bit quicker.

“Saturday was Saturday,” Wisniewski said. “Today the kids came out fired up.

“It looked like the Rifle team that was at the Warrior (Classic), that was at Vernal (Utah).”

The match started at 125 pounds, with Palisade’s Jason Logsdon winning by decision over Tanner Wilcox. Then the Bears took control with three successive victories,
including a second-period pin by Conrardy of Terry Williams.

“I feel great. I feel like I’m in prime condition. I haven’t hit my peak yet,” said Conrardy, who’s headed to Mesa State to wrestle in the fall.

Palisade took the lead back with pins by Wes Shingleton (145) and Tanner Barnes (152), but Rifle’s Dano Fugita (160) and Kiefer Deere (171) returned the favor with pins.

The match turned at the heavier weights, with the Bears’ Brian Key (215) and Tad Davis (285) both winning bouts by pin to put Rifle ahead 37-21.

Palisade tried to make it close, with Daniel Salazar getting a pin at 103. Casey Thornton had a chance to pull the Bulldogs to within striking distance at 112 and had a 10-2 lead on Keaton Deere, but Deere got an escape with 50 seconds remaining to avoid losing by major decision and allow his team to hold a 37-30 lead with one match to wrestle.

“We had some good matches, they had some good matches,” Palisade coach Brian Rush said. “It was a good dual.”

And it could be a good duel between the two at the 4A regional meet in Montrose in two weeks.

The way these two teams match up, nobody expects anything less than a battle down the stretch when state tournament berths are on the line.


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