Fri Feb 17th, 2017
Pepsi Center vets return one last time
Last February, Stocker Robbins was seen inside Colorado Mesa University’s Brownson Arena giving hugs and high-fives to teammates as a spectator with a battered knee on the mend.
One year later and an incredible three weights higher, the revamped Robbins returned to the venue with one objective for the two-day Class 2A-Region I Championships: Return to where he’d first opened eyes statewide.
And despite a loss to Hotchkiss’ now-three-time State Championships qualifier Colton Hall at 132 pounds, Ignacio’s senior will travel to Denver for a third time himself as one of three Bobcats placing in the top four of their respective weights, Feb. 10-11 up in Grand Junction.
“It’s not often that you have the opportunity to coach three boys that have the potential to be state champions,” head coach Jordan Larsen said, speaking of Robbins, senior 145-pounder Ethan Appenzeller and senior 160-pounder Lorenzo Pena. “For them to still be in the hunt at this point is a pretty good feeling for us as coaches.”
“All three of those boys, they…want to go for the title. None of them are looking to just place.”
Meeting Hall after going 2-0 in the bracket after a first-round ‘bye,’ Robbins was able to build a 4-1 lead through two periods. But after starting the third in the bottom position, Hall (39-5) first managed a reversal, then later a three-point near-fall to gain a slim 5-4 win and the regional’s best possible State seeding.
Still, Robbins (20-6) will be in the mix for one last Pepsi Center podium after placing fourth at 113 (following a Region I title at CMU) as a sophomore in 2015 and second at 106 as a breakout freshman. Walsenburg John Mall senior Jonathan Andreatta, Robbins’ opponent that year, will also be in the Mile High City once more, coming in 33-0 after winning the Region II title at 126 pounds.
“After jumping up … three weight classes, and still competing with the best, he’s pretty excited,” Larsen said. “And we’re excited for him, obviously, especially after all that.”
Robbins’ Day 1 opponent at State was to be Peyton sophomore J.D. Hart (24-13), but a rematch with Hall could only happen if both survived unbeaten to Day 3’s first/second-place match.
“Stocker and Woody, you know, they both got that loss at regionals to kids that potentially will be their State Finals matches if they’re fortunate enough to get there. They’re all just hungry.”
Known in Ignacio Athletics circles by his nickname, ‘Woody’ Pena – a State qualifier in ’14 (did not place at 138) and ’16 (third at 160) – found himself ultimately squaring off with HHS senior Wade Katzdorn for Region I supremacy, but came up a point short after six furious minutes, 8-7.
“We’re peaking at the right time of year, as far as I can see in their wrestling. They just lost to some tough opponents,” Larsen said, of Pena and Robbins. “Just hoping that’ll give us a little extra fire for when it counts!”
His Denver-bound record dinged slightly to 33-4 (Katzdorn improved to a comparable 34-5), Pena drew Sedgwick County [Julesburg/Ovid Revere]-Fleming senior Cade Rober (22-12) for first-day work in Denver.
An interesting third at 160, via a 9-5 win over Cedaredge’s Zach Anderson, at Region I was Norwood-Nucla junior Aidan Dabal – who, for one reason or another, was kept from facing Pena at the previous Thursday’s San Juan Basin League Duals held at Nucla High School.
Unable to hide at Colorado Mesa, and defeated 5-4 by Pena in the Region I semifinals, Dabal (22-11) and Pena – who went 2-1 in Grand Junction – could clash again in one semi at State.
Finally, after pinning Oak Creek Soroco senior Lane Martindale (35-8) in 3:41 elapsed to cap a 3-0 regional-title run, Appenzeller (35-4) was to start his fourth State Championships – and pursuit of PHS senior Britton Holmes, his undoing in last season’s 138-pound grand finale – against Wray freshman Emmanuel Huerta (15-10).
Holmes (37-2), who topped Region IV with a 7-0 defeat of Baca County’s Bowman Ellis (25-8), drew Pueblo Dolores Huerta Prep’s Joaquin Martinez (7-16) in the first round, and could see Martindale in the subsequent quarterfinals. Seeded #2 in the bracket with Holmes the #1 (as they were in 2016), Appenzeller – who also qualified for State in ’15 at 138 and in ’14 at 126, but did not place either year – could meet Ellis in the semis.
“Ethan, obviously, he’s feeling good but he’s also looking for a rematch with the returning state champ that he lost to last year,” said Larsen. “So he knows that he’s not going to win it in some kind of glorious fashion.”
“Having those three seniors representing myself and Coach Haga – we’ve been with them since they were freshmen – I don’t know…. It’s just good to see their hard work and determination, their battling in the room paying off in the form of an opportunity,” he stated. “We’re just excited!”
MORE FROM THE REGIONAL
Led by their State-bound trio, Ignacio piled up 79 points and placed seventh in Grand Junction. Paonia nipped Meeker, 201-200, for first, with HHS barely better (198.5-196) than Cedaredge for third and Norwood-Nucla (148) rounding out the top five.
Sophomore Dustin Sanchez went 0-2 at 138 pounds and finished his winter 16-20 overall. Cesar Pedregon finished his first campaign 10-21 after going 1-2 at 170, and senior Dalton Mickey – a State qualifier at 120 in 2014 – went 1-3 at 152, placing sixth, to finish 8-10 overall.
2A-REGION I STANDINGS
1.Paonia 201, 2.Meeker 200, 3.Hotchkiss 198.5, 4.Cedaredge 196, 5.Norwood-Nucla 148, 6.Oak Creek Soroco 82, 7.IGNACIO 79, 8.Mancos 64, 9.Kremmling West Grand 44, 10.Dolores 39, 11.Hayden 29, 12.Walden North Park 16, 13.Rangely 9, 14.Dove Creek 0.
2A-REGION I CHAMPIONS
106 – Zeb Etter, Paonia; 113 – Sergio Campos, Hotchkiss; 120 – Richard Martinez, Mancos; 126 – Eli Etter, Paonia; 132 – Colton Hall, Hotchkiss; 138 – Sheridan Harvey, Meeker; 145 – ETHAN APPENZELLER, IGNACIO; 152 – Jace Logan, Oak Creek Soroco; 160 – Wade Katzdorn, Hotchkiss; 170 – Trenton Armintrout, Norwood-Nucla; 182 – Chase Rule, Meeker; 195 – Sky Carlson, Oak Creek Soroco; 220 – Ethan Barnes, Norwood-Nucla; Hwt – Trevor Smith, Paonia.