Ignacio goes 2-3, takes tenth at Panther Classic

About the worst that could happen for any team at the Dec. 16 Piedra Vista Panther Classic was that any team would end up included in the same opening pool with the Farmington, New Mexico-based hosts.

Gallup, N.M., Miyamura, Shiprock, N.M., and Ignacio were the unfortunate three at the dual-style event’s 2017 edition, with the NMAA Class 6A Panthers completing a clean run into the Gold Bracket by dealing MHS a 72-6 defeat. But after PV had ripped through SHS and IHS by perfect 84-0 scores, that’s when things got interesting for Jordan Larsen’s Coloradans, looking to avoid placement in the meet’s fourth-tier bracket.

Squaring off against Shiprock, one of the Land of Enchantment’s Class A-4A teams present inside Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse, neither Ignacio nor the Chieftains sent out an entrant at 145 pounds. Bobcat junior Dustin Sanchez got the scoring started with a forfeit win at 152, but after 160 went uncontested, SHS’ Latrell Ben pinned Micah Westbrook in 32 seconds at 170 to tie the dual at 6-6.

IHS’ Cesar Pedregon, however, won by forfeit at 182, and heavyweight Randy Herrera also picked up a free six points after the 195- and 220- pound divisions were left open, giving the ’Cats an 18-6 advantage heading back into the lower weights.

Shiprock’s Janelle Redhouse and Savannah Pettigrew claimed forfeit wins at 106 and 113, and after 120 remained vacant, Chieftain 126-pounder Cauy Ute defeated Hunter Robbins by a 10-2 major decision, giving SHS a short-lived lead before Bobcat Diego Valencia claimed a forfeit at 132 – giving the ’Cats a 24-22 victory after neither crew sent out a 138-pounder.

“All … represented the integrity and intensity that Bobcat athletes strive to exemplify,” declared Larsen.

Having staved off Copper Bracket relegation by placing third in Pool A, IHS began Bronze work against Moab (Utah) Grand County and prevailed by tiebreaker after drawing 24-24 with the UHSAA Class 3A Red Devils. Sanchez again started things with a forfeit win, and Westbrook followed at his normal 160 with a pin of Kyler Maxwell in 1:12. GC’s Trea Meyer, however, pinned Pedregon in 1:38 at 182 and heavyweight Gage Hansen stuck Herrera in 51 seconds to tie the match at 12-12.

Robbins and Valencia were both victorious, but GC’s Kayden Robertson won the last contested weight by forfeit to make things interesting. Awarded the win, Ignacio squared off with Pojoaque (N.M.) Valley in the bracket’s first-place showdown, but fell 48-24.

The A-4A (Dist. 2/5; Shiprock represented Dist. 1/3) Elks took a 12-0 lead after the dual began at 160 pounds, but Pedregon got the Bobcats on the board with a pin in only 23 seconds of Ben Lujan. Pojoaque responded with 24 unanswered points before Robbins stuck Javin Lujan’s shoulders down in an elapsed 3:50.

Valencia then won by forfeit at 132, but the Elks won by forfeit at 138 and 145 before Sanchez pinned down Jurhmane Gallegos in just 68 seconds to close the book on the day.

To nobody’s surprise, Piedra Vista’s varsity won the tournament, defeating downtown rivals Farmington 53-18 in the Gold Bracket’s grand finale. PVHS’ ‘Silver,’ or junior-varsity squad, placed fifth overall after winning the Silver title 42-30 over 3A Bayfield, Colo. With just under half a full squad, Ignacio still finished tenth overall at the 15-team gathering.

“The coaching staff was extremely pleased with the performance of the boys,” Larsen said. “And as a team we look forward to hitting the practice mat Monday to … work to fix the mistakes and address areas of weakness on an individual level as we head into break.”

Having started the Classic pinning 5A Miyamura’s Nancy Rodriguez in 1:26, Sanchez finished with a 4-1 mark – including his two forfeit wins – with his loss via third-period pin, courtesy Panther Terrence Thompson.

Westbrook finished 1-4 overall at 160/170, while Pedregon went 3-2 at 182 and, like Sanchez, pushed his Panther foe – Jesus Espino – into the third period of their bout before losing via pin 24 ticks in. Herrera finished 1-4 overall in a weight class counting 11 total individuals, and did take MHS’ Jairod Gonzales deep into the second period before losing by pin in 3:34 elapsed (the ’Cats lost their day-starting dual against the Patriots 53-18).

Losing only to Ute, who went 4-1 at the event, Robbins finished 3-1 overall (his win over GC’s Dylan Harrison came at 132) while Valencia ended up 3-2 – an even 1-1 at 126 and 2-1 (both wins via forfeit) at 132.

Up next for the Bobcats will be Pagosa Springs’ Rocky Mountain Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018.

“Back to the drawing board for the next few weeks,” said Larsen, “and ready to come back strong!”

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