Sports Wrestling

Grapplers host, grab 11th at Melton Memorial

Photo Credit: Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum

Sanchez takes fourth at 152

It was only proper that the 2018 Butch Melton Memorial’s final match would feature an Ignacio Bobcat – heavyweight Randy Herrera, in this case – on the red, central mat. But, given the type of competition the tournament tends to attract each winter, Herrera found himself standing in against Cedaredge’s Derek Sanchez, Class 2A’s third-ranked heavy in the updated On The Mat poll – released the day before the Jan. 27 action commenced.

Unfortunately the ’Cat was unable to escape the Bruin; with spectators and athletes already heading for the exits after nearly ten hours of competition, Sanchez was able to notch a pin just 40 seconds into the first period and shut down the grand Saturday show.

And though Sanchez placed first in the division, his win wasn’t enough to secure #2-ranked [2A] CHS the team championship; ranked fourth in Class 3A, Pagosa Springs left IHS Gymnasium having won five of the 14 weights and accumulated 212.5 points overall. Cedaredge piled up a second-place 187.5 score, and 5A Aztec, N.M., took third with 155.5.

PSHS’ Intermountain League rivals Bayfield and Montezuma-Cortez rounded out the standings’ top five with 95, and 54.5 points respectively, while Ignacio finished 11th with 17 points.

“All the boys have been wrestling tough, and have demonstrated their ability to wrestle tough kids at a high level,” head coach Jordan Larsen said. “Their work ethic and mindset over the next few weeks will be a huge piece of how well they will perform at regionals, which is our main focus.”

Herrera finished in fourth place, having battled San Juan Basin League rival Bryan Escarcega of Dolores well for nearly two full periods (Escarcega managed a pin after an elapsed 3:34), and went the distance against 1A Montezuma Creek, Utah, Whitehorse’s Vincent Saltclah but lost by a 6-0 count.

IHS sophomore Cesar Pedregon placed eighth at 182 pounds, after defaulting to 6A Farmington (N.M.) Piedra Vista JV freshman Shane McCoy – to whom he’d already lost an 18-12 shootout – and finishing an unlucky [Pedregon also lost 14-11 to highly-rated SJBL foe Cameron Fury of Mancos] 0-5. With one round-robin win, freshman Micah Westbrook finished eighth at 160 after defaulting to PSHS junior Ethan Evans.

Posting a 3-2 record, junior Dustin Sanchez placed fourth at 152 after Cedaredge senior Colton Hoerr pinned him with four seconds left in the third-place test’s first period. Winning the weight was PSHS’ Trevor Bryant, via a third-period pin of Aztec senior Austin Littlefield—who’d stopped Sanchez previously by 16-0 technical fall—which was the Tiger standout’s first loss of the 2017-18 season.

And at 138, Bobcat junior Skieler Grooms finished a fifth-place 2-2, having lost initially to M-CHS’ #4-ranked [3A] Matthew Broughton, the eventual champ, and ultimately to Cedaredge’s David Schipmann, but posting victories in between over PVHS’ Kobie Greenhaus and 4A Durango’s Ben Finneseth—the first win via pin after 2:38 elapsed, and the second via 15-0 tech.

“Wrestling’s an extremely mental sport, along with its extremely physical nature, and we are gaining ground continuously in that area,” Larsen stated. “I’m extremely proud of how far these boys have come, and will continue to go the rest of the season.”

The ’Cats were to compete next at the SJBL Duals, hosted this year by Dolores, on Thursday, Feb. 1, but results were unavailable at press time. Following the league meet, IHS will prepare for the 2A-Region I Championships, to be held Feb. 9-10 in Delta.

“All of our boys are…looking forward to getting after it in the next two weeks,” said Larsen. “As a young team, getting a few boys up to the Pepsi Center this year would be invaluable experience to bring to the table next year. With a little luck and a lot of focus, we just might be able to punch a few boys through!”

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