Richard Martinez and Brandon Ward were on a collision course.
Wrestling in the 120-pound weight class at the Dawg Fight in Dove Creek on Saturday, the two seniors breezed through pool play with 4-0 records to set up a meeting in the championship match.
The pairing was significant.
Not only because the former teammates hadn’t faced off in years – but also because both were ranked in the top five at 120 pounds in Class 2A, according to OntheMat. Ward, a senior at Dolores, was ranked No. 1, while Martinez, a Mancos senior, was No. 4.
“They know each other so well, on and off the mat,” said Mancos head coach Travis White. “So, it was a great way to matchup right off the bat and have those good matches early in the season.”
Martinez jumped out to an early advantage in the championship match, but Ward bounced back by scoring on reversals.
“Richard started the match off and set the tempo, but Brandon was slowly making his way back,” said White. “It was a tough match, back and forth.”
“It was a very close match,” said Dolores head coach Dane Gallaher. “Richard had a couple takedowns and one back point and Brandon had three reversals on him, but it was just a tight match the whole time.”
But when the horn sounded after three periods, Martinez held a narrow 7-6 advantage to win the title match and move to 14-0 on the season.
“I think (Brandon) is going to bounce back just fine,” said Gallaher. “He took the loss hard, but I told him it was a one-point match at this point in the season and I don’t think there’s anything to get excited about.”
Ward is scheduled to have his wisdom teeth removed and will miss the next few weeks, but he’ll likely get at least one shot to even the score with Martinez, as Dolores and Mancos will meet up for three more regular season meets, as well as the San Juan Basin League tournament and regional tournament.
Mancos and Dolores wrap-upWhile Martinez was the top finisher for Mancos, the Blue Jays had other placers.
Junior Cameron Fury was 4-1 on the day at 170 pounds, with his only loss coming to Bayfield’s Macoy Machaeli, finishing second. And in the heavyweight division, sophomore Casey Orange went 2-1 in round robin matches to finish second as well.
Then, in only his second tournament, freshman Andrew Ruatti went 1-2 in pool play and won another match in the first round of the 132-pound bracket. He eventually fell to Dolores’ Austin Hackney in the fifth-place match to wind up sixth to round out the squad.
“They did really well,” White said of his team. “They were kind of disappointed in their performance in Moab the weekend before last, and we kind of challenged them and they stepped up to it.”
As for the Bears, Ward finished second at 120 and Hackney was 4-1 at 132 to finish fifth, as previously mentioned. The surprise of the day was sophomore Josh Petrow.
Hackney was originally scheduled to wrestle at 126, but bumped up to 132 after he didn’t make weight, leaving Petrow as the Bears’ lone representative at 126. He made them proud, compiling a 3-2 record to finish second place.
“He was actually going to be my alternate at 126, and he ended up second place,” said Gallaher. “That was the surprise of the tournament right there.”
David Schmittel went 3-1 at 145 pounds to finish third and Zander Eichner was 2-3 at 120, good for sixth place. And then Cameron Chavez and Kolby Burt were 0-4 and Tezman Hackney finished 0-3 to round out the group.
Mancos and Dolores will meet up again this weekend at the Piedra Vista Tournament.
Derek Kibel is it for Dove CreekWith Cade Curtis out battling illness, junior Derek Kibel was Dove Creek’s lone representative at its home tournament on Saturday.
But competing at 152 pounds, he went 2-1 in pool play and then pinned Ignacio’s Timothy Plehinger to place third.
“Coach Huskey and I were very happy with the way Derek wrestled,” said Dove Creek head coach Eric Stiasny. “He is wrestling up a weight class until after break and we thought that he really had good technique in his matches, especially his match for third. If he continues to work hard he can end up doing pretty well late in the season.”
Dove Creek will travel to John Mall this weekend for the Pete and Ina Gomez Tournament.
Higgins is highlight for M-CHSAfter hopping up a weight class to get a match on Tuesday, Montezuma-Cortez sophomore Shawn Higgins was back down at his normal 106 pounds on Saturday.
And he stayed undefeated at 106 by going 5-0 on the day to finish first.
“Shawn’s doing well,” said M-CHS head coach Shad Bellmire. “He’s getting aggressive on his takedowns, we’ve just got to work a little bit on his riding, he’s getting just a little high. But this weekend at the Warrior Classic, I’m looking to get him in the medal round.”
Mixed in with Martinez and Ward at 120 pounds was M-CHS sophomore Stevie Fuentes. Fuentes started the day 3-0, but then fell to Ward in the final round of pool play and dropped the third place match to Cody Speece of Bayfield to finish fourth.
“With Ward and Martinez – they’ll be in the top in 2A – he’s got to step up with those kind of guys and not let them be intimidating to him,” said Bellmire. “Because Stevie is a tough kid, and once he gets working on his takedown he’ll be a-whole-nother animal.”
After defeating Ignacio’s Stocker Robbins the weekend prior at CMU, M-CHS sophomore Matthew Broughton fell to Robbins and Del Norte’s Brett Benavides on Saturday to finish with a 3-2 and in third place.
“He said when he got done that he didn’t wrestle well,” said Bellmire. “But you have to try your best each time because you don’t want that match to fall at something like regionals. So, Matt’s got a good attitude and he knows that he didn’t wrestle well, but he knows the things that he needs to step up and do a little better at as well.”
Then, with senior Josh Ramos taking the ACT on Saturday, freshman Casen Allmon got a chance to step in at 145 and see some action. He split two matches in pool play, but dropped his final match to finish 1-2.
“Casen retains well in the room and really tries to go over the shots and techniques and everything that we’re doing,” Bellmire explained. “Casen went in there and hit everything that we asked of him. He’s just trying to get down with his descent program and the kids were a little bit bigger than him and he got ahold of some varsity kids – just stepping stones.”
Jared Gray also competed at 145 pounds for the Panthers, and the senior went 2-2 to finish fourth. Then at 160 pounds, Briggs Durbin went 2-3 to place fourth, and sophomore Swayde Noyes was 1-2 at 195 pounds, finishing third.
The Panthers will compete in the Warrior Classic this weekend at Grand Junction Central.