In one of the toughest wrestling tournaments along the Western Slope, the Ignacio High School wrestling team fared well as it placed ninth out of 23 teams with 66.5 points Saturday at the 2019 Screaming Eagle Invitational at Paonia High School.
Paonia took the team title with 228 points, while John Mall was second (175.5) and Hayden was third (148).
IHS had seven wrestlers compete, and four got onto the podium, which included a third-place finisher.
Head coach Jordan Larsen liked the effort.
“It was a nice tournament to see what our regional tournament is basically going to be,” Larsen said. “I thought we had really good competition and our guys wrestled hard the entire tournament. It was great to see where we’re at.”
Cesar Pedregon was the Bobcats’ highest finisher, as he took third in the 182-pound weight class division. In the third-place match, he pinned Kesston Hobbs of Meeker at the 2 minute, 32 second mark of the match. Pedregon would have to go through the wrestlebacks in the consolation bracket to get to the third-place match, after he lost in a major decision in his first semifinal match. He rebounded with a pin in the consolation semifinals, and pinned his way to third place.
Dustin Sanchez, who was ranked No. 7 in the latest On the Mat rankings at 160 in Class 2A, finished fourth. Sanchez battled to reach the third-place match after a quarterfinal loss sent him to the consolation bracket. He would win three consecutive matches, including a thrilling tiebreaker win in the consolation semifinals. Sanchez was forced to forefeit the third place match because he had reached the five-match limit.
Also placing for IHS was Skieler Grooms (138), who took sixth after he lost to Tytus Coombs of Rangley, in a 23-6 decision. Clay Campbell (170) finished in fifth in his weight class, after he pinned Trenton Gaston of Paonia in just 50 seconds.
Larsen said that he is looking forward to seeing how the Bobcats will fare this week, with hosting a major tournament on the horizon.
“We’re really just looking forward to continue to hone our skills, as we will run it in a round-robin format,” Larsen said. “Everybody is going to get five really high-quality matches, and we’re excited to see how we do. This is another big test to see where we are at, and I think it’s going to bring out our best.”
Ignacio will host the prestigious Butch Melton Tournament beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday at Ignacio High School.
Bayfield High SchoolThe Bayfield High School wrestling team went 2-3 in Saturday’s Aztec Tiger Duals at Aztec High School and uncharacteristically struggled as a team throughout much of the day. BHS had good individual performances, but had a rude awakening when it was upset in a 42-34 loss to Gallup, which was followed by back-to-back losses to Kirtland (42-33) and Utah power Monticello (48-33). The Wolverines responded with wins over Bloomfield (36-33) and thrashed Shiprock (70-6).
Head coach Todd McMenimen credited his team for fighting back after a tough start to the day.
“I thought we wrestled pretty well, and we probably should’ve beaten Gallop, but there were just a couple of spots here and there where we gave up points,” McMenimen said. “It was a pretty consistent theme, we’d get put on our backs, give up some points, and didn’t have a full roster, so it was tough to make up those points. There were some really top-notch schools from Albuquerque there, so it was good competition.”
Two wrestlers went undefeated on the day for Bayfield, as John Foutz (195) and Dylan Pickering (126) went 5-0.
The biggest bout of the day came at 220 in the second dual of the day against Kirtland Central. Jarryd Pollard of Kirtland, who had lost to BHS’ Daniel Westbrook in overtime earlier this season at Pagosa Springs. Pollard got even, and defeated Westbrook 3-2 in an ultimate tiebreaker – an extra period of overtime, after neither wrestler was able to score a decisive point in the first two tiebreaker periods. In the first overtime session, both Westbrook and Pollard got escape points, which forced the decisive tiebreaker. Westbrook started on the bottom since Pollard scored first in the match, and in order to win, had to get an escape point. Pollard was able to hold on for the win.
“It was a great match, and that was a situation, as a coach, we probably should have told Daniel to choose the downward position at the beginning of the second period of regulation so he could have gotten an escape point,” McMenimen said. “We deferred it, and it cost us later on. ... That’s on me, but we’ll learn from that one, for sure.”
McMenimen said that the rest of the wrestlers fared well, and will be ready for the Butch Melton Tournament next weekend.
Bayfield will have a 3A Intermountain League dual at 6 p.m. Thursday at Monte Vista High School, followed by Ignacio’s Butch Melton Tournament on Saturday.
Durango High SchoolThe Durango High School wrestling team had a separate bout than the one it faced on Saturday at the Grand Junction Central Tri meet: Another illness.
Four DHS wrestlers missed the triangular on Saturday because of wrestlers battling bronchitis and severe season allergies. The Demons lost both matches, as Montrose won 64-12, while Grand Junction Central won 68-4
“We were in Arizona last week, and when you’re in a different region, sometimes you just run into a different bug,” said DHS head coach Leo Garand. “Unfortunately, the proximity of our sport, that’s what happens; you build an immunity to the local bug, get over it the first time, and you go somewhere else and pick up a new virus.”
Despite DHS’ latest setback, certain wrestlers still had a solid day. Paul Smagacz (138) went 2-0 and picked up pins, while Owen Eicher went 1-1 after he wrestled not at full strength. Ben Belt and Alex Finneseth also competed for DHS.
“Ben Belt was our biggest surprise,” Garand said. “He went attacking and shooting all day against some very talented upperclassmen and handled it very well. Paul went 2-0 and had good competition, so even though we were thinned out in our lineup, we still fought hard to win some matches.”
Meanwhile, Samantha Vazquez took third in the girls tournament in Aztec and will be competing at regionals next weekend.
“Samantha has been awesome for us all year,” Garand said. “It’s the first year that there’s going to be a regional from CHSAA, so we can’t wait to see how she does. I know she’ll get on the podium, again, it just depends where she’ll be.”
DHS will travel to Center next weekend for the Viking Invitational at 9 a.m. Saturday at Center High School.