Panthers change travel plans, place four in Norwood

RANGELY I Weather caused a change in plans for the Rangely Panthers’ wrestling team. The team was scheduled to wrestle in Crowley County, but a winter storm forced them to cancel the trip over the Continental Divide. Instead, they wrestled in a tournament in Norwood the week before the state-qualifying regional tournament.
“This was a good tournament for us late in the season, seeing two teams we have not seen all season,” head coach Jeff Heinle said of the competition in Norwood.
The Panthers placed four of their six wrestlers in the top four, including one champion and finished sixth as a team.
Rangely senior Lucas Heinle won the 145-pound bracket by pinning all three of his opponents. Heinle will be the No. 1 seed in the regional tournament this weekend in Grand Junction.
Caleb Lawson (152) and Ethan Allred (160) both lost in the semifinals of their respective weights but came back and won their consolation brackets and senior Ryan Wilczek finished fourth in the 195-pound bracket. Kiki Ruiz (138) and Nych Deleon (JV-145) did not place.
Coach Heinle said the Panthers will put the “finishing touches” on their moves for the state-qualifying regional tournament, which starts Friday at Grand Junction High School.
“This region is the toughest region in the state, with the wrestlers we have competing,” Coach Heinle said. “If you are fortunate enough to qualify, you have a good chance of placing at state. This region is a mini-state tournament, you need to win the first round if you are going to have a chance of going to state. Any mistake you make could cost you a shot at going to state no matter what period or round.”
Coach Heinle said Heath Peters will also wrestle in the regional tournament in the 132-pound bracket.
“I’m excited and nervous for our wrestlers all at the same time,” Coach Heinle said. “This weekend will be the toughest matches we have had to wrestle all year, with what is on the line. We have a chance to send our full squad to state if we wrestle smart and tough.”