Walking somewhat wounded into their first 2A/1A San Juan Basin League wrestling dual barely 36 hours earlier, the Bobcats closed out the 2016 half of their winter’s schedule on Saturday, Dec. 17, in Farmington, N.M., at Piedra Vista’s Panther Classic.
Being a dual-style tournament, Ignacio – which was minus seniors Dalton Mickey and Timmy Plehinger-Williams, as well as junior Cesar Corona on the road at Dolores – lacked the numbers to really flex their collective muscle, but at least had the opportunity to hint at their potential strength against schools/teams of far greater size.
Victorious by forfeit against the Bears, senior 160-pounder Lorenzo Peña won three matches inside Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse. And senior Ethan Appenzeller, who’d began the DHS dual pinning senior Aiden Hopcia in an elapsed 3:52, also starred with three victories at the Classic.
But whereas lineup vacancies hadn’t completely sabotaged IHS at Dolores (which also lacked multiple regulars including Brandon Ward and Skieler Grooms), they proved crippling against opposition including the hosting, Class 6A Panthers’ junior varsity “Silver” squad.
PVHS dealt Ignacio a 63-18 defeat, and the Cats also succumbed to 5A Grants, N.M. (48-18) and 5A Farmington (60-18) in placing last in Pool D. Still, there was a collective heart beating and IHS almost departed with a victory after being relegated to the fourth-tier ‘Copper’ bracket.
Unfortunately, Class A-4A Santa Fe (N.M.) St. Michael’s had enough horses – or, in its case, Horsemen – and, despite also having several holes in its lineup, prevailed 35-24. In almost identical fashion to the Dolores dual, only four matches were actually wrestled, and Peña – fittingly – recorded IHS’ lone win via first-period pin.
In the Bears’ lair, however, Ignacio left on the desired side of an unusual 31-30 score.
After Appenzeller stuck Hopcia, Peña and 170-pounder Cesar Pedregon increased the Bobcats’ lead to 18-0 with DHS unable to send out any opposition. Neither crew had a competitor at 182, 195 or 220, but freshman Randy Herrera stood in unopposed at heavyweight and upped the advantage to 24-0.
Dolores quickly worked that down to zero with sophomore Cameron Chavez (106) and freshman Tezman Hackney (113) claiming forfeits, freshman Zander Eichner pinning Hunter Robbins at 1:33 of the second period at 120, and junior Austin Hackney winning unopposed at 126.
IHS senior Stocker Robbins was able to dip down to 132 and pin (in 1:41 of the first) sophomore Josh Petrow, but after the 138-pound division went uncontested, Bear junior David Schmittel responded by pinning Dustin Sanchez in an elapsed 5:45 at 145 to even the score at 30-30.
Several tiebreaking criteria were then examined, and it was ultimately determined that by scoring first in three of the four official matches, the Cats would be awarded the winning scratch.
To little surprise, Piedra Vista dominated its tournament and downed FHS 51-15 to win the Gold bracket after beating Dolores 78-6, 5A Los Alamos (N.M.), 2A Moab (Utah) Grand County 64-18 and St. Mike’s 78-3.
Farmington reached the top-tier finale by defeating GHS, PV’s “Silver,” IHS and 3A Bayfield – which qualified for the Gold bracket, but lost the third-place dual 41-37 to LAHS.
At the 16-team event, St. Mike’s ranked 13th overall and Ignacio 14th, with 1A Monument Valley, UT, nipping 2A Mancos 12-11 to decide third/fourth in the Copper and thus 15th and 16th overall.