Sanchez reps IHS on Pepsi Center podium

Ignacio junior, 152-pounder, Dustin Sanchez attempts to pin Stratton senior, Dayne Hines during the weight’s fifth-place match, Feb. 17 at the CHSAA Class 2A State Championships in Denver. Unfortunately, a fall was not signaled, and Sanchez finished the season in sixth place.
Ignacio junior, 152-pounder, Dustin Sanchez attempts to pin Stratton senior, Dayne Hines during the weight's fifth-place match, Feb. 17 at the CHSAA Class 2A State Championships in Denver. Unfortunately, a fall was not signaled, and Sanchez finished the season in sixth place.
As the now-concluded Winter Olympics progressed on the other side of the world in South Korea, former Team USA Greco-Roman heavyweight great Rulon Gardner - a gold medalist at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, and bronze winner in 2004 in Athens, Greece - greeted fans inside a spot-lit Pepsi Center the night of Saturday, Feb. 17, prior to the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships' Parade of Champions, when first-place contenders at each weight in Classes 2A through 5A were presented.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

Junior finishes sixth in 2A at 152 pounds

Facing Kobryn Mann, a senior representing the Julesburg-Ovid Revere-Fleming cooperative (officially Sedgwick County-Fleming) and hungry for his first finals appearance after placing third at both the 2017 and 2016 CHSAA Class 2A State Wrestling Championships and qualifying for, but going winless at in ’15, Ignacio 152-pounder, Dustin Sanchez finally met his Mile High match.

After defeating Stratton’s Dayne Hines 7-2 earlier on Day 2 in the weight’s quarterfinals, the Bobcat junior’s surprising bid to re-enter Pepsi Center the next night in the Parade of Champions was denied in the semis as Mann – who would unluckily finish second to Trevor Randel of the Eads-Wiley-McClave ‘County Line’ co-op – hoisted Sanchez in something of a fireman’s carry, then lowered him for a pin just before the second period expired.

Sanchez may have been down on Friday, Feb. 16, but he certainly wasn’t done in Denver.

Guaranteed anywhere from third place to sixth, Sanchez went back to work on Day 3 and first met Wray’s Cade Hillman in one consolation semifinal. Unfortunately, the Eagle junior pulled out a quick pin, prevailing 12 ticks into the second period and leaving IHS’ last hope with a best possible finish of fifth.

Standing in his way was Hines, and the two again strove for six hard minutes with Hines (18-13) hanging on for a shaky 3-2 win. Including a 14-6 major-decision rout of Fowler senior Chantz Lange on Day 1, Sanchez finished his breakout 2017-18 season 24-16 overall and – most importantly – with some State hardware in hand.

“Quite an accomplishment for any wrestler,” declared head coach Jordan Larsen.  “He peaked at the right time and brought everything he had to the table. He earned what he got and I am extremely proud of him, as are the other coaches and our district in general.”

“Dustin found a way,” he continued, “despite perhaps being the less naturally-gifted athlete in every match, to win through a combination of heart, strategy, and mental toughness.”

All told, Ignacio recorded ten team points and finished tied with Saguache Mountain Valley and Kremmling West Grand for 35th place (out of 51 squads scoring) in the standings.  Helped by Hines, Stratton totaled 15 points and placed 33rd while WHS, practically victorious before Day 3 even began, piled up 197.5.

With 147 points, Paonia settled for second ahead of Rocky Ford (136.5), Cedaredge (118) and FHS (91.5).

Qualifying at 145 pounds, junior Skieler Grooms led 6-4 entering the third period but ultimately lost 11-9 to Swink junior Kaleb Fisher in the first round.  He recovered to dominate Pueblo Dolores Huerta Prep freshman Xavier Mendoza 9-1 in consolation-bracket work before Fowler junior Dylan Palomino eliminated him 7-nil.

“Skieler, despite his frustration with not making it to Saturday’s weigh-in, competed the best I have seen … all season,” Larsen stated.  “I never once saw an ounce of quit in him, and his intensity through and through in each match was excellent.”

“Even though he fell short of his goal, he should be proud of himself and what he has accomplished in his first year as a Bobcat, as competing with the best in the state is exactly what he did. Again, I am so proud of this young man in addition to Dustin. We are more than ecstatic for him to have joined the Family!”

Grooms finished his first campaign in ’Cat colors with an 18-12 record.

“Believe me when I say that those two gentlemen, along with the other three that finished the regular season with us, had to go through a season of rigor and intensity I believe to be one of the most challenging state-wide,” added Larsen.  “We are so extremely proud of our small squad and cannot wait to see what the boys choose to make of themselves in the future.”

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