Rivals hit the mat: Casey lifts GJ past Fruita Monument in Southwestern League dual

Grand Junction’s Gage Casey battles Fruita Monument’s Dallas Bernal during a highly contested 6-5 victory Thursday night in a Southwestern League dual at Fruita Monument High School.

Grand Junction had already built a comfortable lead, but it was Gage Casey’s rematch that got the Tigers on their feet.

The Grand Junction High School junior ended up with a chance at revenge with Fruita Monument’s Dallas Bernal in a Southwestern League dual Thursday night at Fruita Monument and Casey was ready for it.

“It means a lot,” Casey said. “He beat me my freshman year by one point.

“I’ve wanted to wrestle Dallas ever since I lost that first match to him. To come out and beat him twice is a great feeling.”

Casey, who defeated Bernal last week at the Jackpot Duals, defeated Bernal 6-5 to lead the Tigers to a 53-15 victory over Fruita Monument.

The Tigers (10-1, 1-0 SWL) won 11 matches, including four by pin and two by forfeit in the victory.

Grand Junction coach Cole Allison bumped Casey up to 160 pounds before Thursday’s dual started to get senior Leo Bermudez a varsity match.

“The way the schedule is set up, we see everyone like five times,” Allison said. “We have to dual them again in two weeks at the Southwestern League duals (in Cortez). With that and only so many home duals, I wanted to highlight the seniors in my lineup. Keenan Hall and Leo Bermudez have been battling for the 140 spot all year long, so I thought I’d slide Leo in (the lineup) plus I get the added bonus of moving (Jessie) Hoffschneider up to wrestle a tough kid. They won’t wrestle us, but that was the thinking.”

Instead, Fruita Monument (3-10, 0-1) forfeited to No. 1 ranked and returning state runner-up Hoffschneider at 152 and Fruita coach Dan Van Hoose moved Bernal up to 160.

“I didn’t even think of it,” Van Hoose said. “Sometimes you can bump up and change the momentum of the match. I’m trying to change the momentum. My 71-pounder has been at 89 all year. We’ve got to do the simple things and we’re still not doing them.”

Casey scored the first takedown to take a 2-0 lead, but trailed 4-2 entering the third period.

“It’s typical Gage,” Grand Junction coach Cole Allison said. “If you wrestle Gage you have to be in shape to wrestle him a full six minutes. Probably 99 percent of Gage’s matches we get taken down first and 99 percent we storm back in the third period. We don’t always win them, but that’s how he is.”

Casey’s victory gave the Tigers a 32-9 lead with five matches left.

Grand Junction’s Jonathon Pauli followed Casey’s win with a 7-6 victory over Aidan Woomer at 171 pounds. Robbie Gonzalez pinned Tray Thygerson in 51 seconds for a 41-9 lead and heavyweight Sam Monahan pinned Bryce Langley in 1:05.

Matt Bishop got the Wildcats started on the right foot with a 9-6 victory over Rory Wick at 112 pounds.

Grand Junction’s Dylon Thompson, though, quickly turned the momentum around, pinning Seth Gonzales in 3:08. The Tigers won five consecutive matches to take a 23-3 lead.

Chase Arrieta, J.C. Archuleta and Keenan Hall won decisions and Kamron Medina pinned Aaron Hicks in 4:38.

Fruita’s Steven Tausch pinned Leo Bermudez in 3:45 at 145.


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