Rifle Edges Eagle Valley Wrestling
Freshman Chris Harvey got the home team on top early with a pin, which was followed by a 4-2 decision by state-qualifier Tim Rietz putting the Devils up 9-0.
Then the Eagle Valley grapplers ran into the meat of Class 4-A Rifle’s lineup and the early lead turned into a 21-12 deficit.
Devils’ coach Jeff Leuders credited his team for hanging in there when it got tough, enabling them to rally around senior all-state football player John Saldana.
“John got us back on track,” remarked Coach Leuders. “He wrestled really well and got us some points when we needed them.”
Gabe Velasquez then dropped a very hard fought heavyweight bout with Rifle’s Kye Hunter. The two gave new meaning to the term heavyweight in a battle of sheer determination and physical will.
Trailing 21-12 midway through the dual meet, the Eagle Valley squad again rallied this time around the more diminutive side of their lineup. Lightweight Tommy Barela, fresh off a first-place finish in Steamboat Springs, won a convincing 16-5 decision.
Asked about the senior lightweight Leuders had only this to say, “Tommy is a stud.”
Barela’s match was followed by a monster 17-2 technical-fall win by sophomore B.J. Jaramillo, and a 8-5 decision by freshman Mason Ewing that moved the Devils back on top 24-21.
From there on, though, it was all Rifle. The Bears posted a decision and two pins to close the match out.
It was a tough loss but one that Coach Leuders feels the team can build on for future dual meets against intrastate rivals Palisade and Hotchkiss.
“We hate to lose any meet, but these are the kind that will make us better,” said Leuders. “We’ll correct a few things here and work on a few other things there that will pay off down the road when we get into the state-tournament.”
The loss drops Eagle Valley to 1-1 in dual meet competition after its previous drubbing of Basalt 66-6. There’s no rest for the weary, however, as the squad will travel to Summit County Saturday for the Tiger’s Lair Tournament.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.