The Tigers roar

Victories at toss-up weights help GJ get past Central

Grand Junction’s Isaac Rider pins Central’s Derek Rubalcaba to win his 138-pound match Thursday night in the Tigers’ 48-26 victory. Rider, who transferred to Grand Junction this season from Rifle — where he was a Class 4A state placer — won his first match for the Tigers.

Grand Junction won three of the four matches that could go either way, and that allowed the Tigers to pull away for a 48-26 victory Thursday over Central in the Southwestern League wrestling opener for each team.

Grand Junction coach Cole Allison said the matches at 113, 120, 126 and 152 pounds were the toss-ups, so to speak, and with the dual beginning at 126 pounds, the Tigers claimed one of those matches right off the bat.

Jeremy Latham scored the first takedown and led throughout to defeat Central’s Brandon Chadd 8-3 at 126.

Then, after Central’s Kyle Martinez won by technical fall at 132, the Tigers won the next four matches for a 24-5 team lead. Three of those wins were pins by Isaac Rider (138), Louis Guillen (145) and Jacob Trujillo (160). Rider made his varsity debut for Grand Junction after moving from Rifle, where he was a Class 4A state qualifier.

Also in that run was a 10-7 decision at 152, as the Tigers’ Colton Jacobsen rallied from deficits of 5-1 and 7-4 to edge Miguel Reyes. Four of Jacobsen’s points came from three technical violations by Reyes, and Allison said the first one was the big one. Reyes was penalized for pulling Jacobsen’s singlet, and that stopped the action in the middle of a pin attempt by Reyes.

Allison called the reprieve a godsend and commended Jacobsen for regrouping and finishing strong, scoring the match’s final points on a takedown with 44 seconds left.

Isaac Bair started a Central rally with a first-period pin at 170. Soloman Jarman claimed the meet’s lone forfeit at 182, and Rowdy Allen notched a second-period pin at 195 as Central pulled within 24-23.

But that set the stage for the Tigers’ big men as Tyler Zook (220) and Robbie Gonzalez (285) pinned their opponents, then the meet moved to the smallest wrestlers, and Tyren Castonguay (106) made it three pins in a row to seal the team victory, 42-23, with two matches to go.

“That was a closer dual than the score says,” Allison said. “I really thought there were four swing matches that could’ve gone either way, and we got three of them, and that was the difference.”

Zook and Gonzalez appear to be in the right places now for the Tigers. The team’s original plan called for Zook to be the heavyweight and Gonzalez to wrestle at 220, but football injuries delayed Gonzalez’s availability until one week ago. In the meantime, an ankle injury prevented him from running to cut weight.

So, Zook, who had weighed as much as 230 pounds, worked his way down to 220, and Gonzalez is tipping the scales at 240, and both are looking strong on the mat. Each won a title a week earlier in District 51’s Jackpot Tournament.

“They both kind of found a home and settled in,” Allison said. 

Allison said his squad now is close to being what it will be the rest of the season, barring injury. He held out Kohlby Wells at 120, wanting to give him the extra days to recover from some nicks and rest before a tournament this weekend.

In Well’s place, freshman Nicholas Gordon won by pin, claiming one of those toss-up matches.

“Nick Gordon, he came out and did a great job filling in for Kohlby,” Allison said. “When you have some depth, you can err on the side of caution.”


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