After starting the season at the Maverick Duals at Colorado Mesa University last weekend, the Montezuma-Cortez wrestling team returned home for a dual against Norwood/Nucla on Tuesday.
The Panthers went 3-2 in Grand Junction over the weekend as a team, defeating Ignacio, Palisade and Olathe, but falling to Rifle and Paonia.
“Most of the team did well, but they need to work on their conditioning,” said head coach Shad Bellmire. “They’ve got to push each other in the room and just knock off the rust, being it was the first one out of the gate. But overall it went pretty well.”
Individually, Shawn Higgins and Josh Ramos led the Panthers. Bouncing back-and-forth between the 106 and 113-pound classes, Higgins was 5-0 on the day. And Ramos, at 145 pounds, went 4-1 with his only loss to Sackett Chesnik of Paonia in a 4-3 decision.
Stevie Fuentes, Matt Broughton, Briggs Durbin, Kerwin Tom and Swayde Noyes all went 3-2 on the day, Jared Gray was 2-3, and Sonny Boren finished 1-4.
Back home on Tuesday, the Panthers hosted OntheMat’s No. 4 ranked Class 2A team in Norwood/Nucla.
The Panthers fell behind 16-0 in the team score early, with Noyes falling in the first match, Tom losing in an 11-3 decision, and then Higgins falling by pin.
Then, wrestling at 126 and 132, respectively, Fuentes and Broughton picked up the Panthers’ first two wins. Fuentes won by a 6-2 decision and Broughton pinned Riley Wilson in the first period.
Next came the bout of two returning state qualifiers, in Ramos and Hayden Harris.
After qualifying at 138 lbs. in Class 3A last year, Ramos had been competing at 145 this season. But he bounced up a class to meet Harris – the 152-pound state runner up last year in Class 2A – at the 152-lb division.
Ramos kept things close, but he never could take control of Harris and fell in three rounds in a 5-0 decision.
“He’s a real tough kid and he pushed his tank, so it was a good match for both of them and stuff to work on for Josh,” Bellmire said. “We’re going to stick him on the bottom a lot to work on getting off the bottom against tough kids like that.”
Durban was the Panthers’ last winner of the evening, finishing off his opponent Austin Overholt in the 160-pound class by pin in the second round. And then Norwood/Nucla’s Will Gabriel edged out Sonny Boren in a 7-3 decision in the final match to send them on to a 22-15 team win over M-CHS.
The Panthers are back in action on Saturday at the Dawg Fight in Dove Creek starting at 9:30 a.m.