Fri Feb 16th, 2018
Special to the Drum
Sanchez, Grooms qualify for Pepsi Center
Though unable to forcibly flip Hotchkiss’ Ethan Guy over – the referee would separate the two after noticing an illegally-applied full-nelson hold – Ignacio’s Micah Westbrook, who’d avoided being a pin victim himself not long before, showed that the undermanned Bobcats would work until the 2A-Region I Championships, held Feb. 9-10 at Delta High School, were complete.
Maxing out what would be the event’s final Day 1 match, as well as his final match of the 2017-18 season – his first in IHS red-and-white – Westbrook managed to wrestle the Bulldogs’ 160-pounder for a full six minutes before losing a 13-5 major decision and becoming a first-day casualty (he’d already lost by pin to Norwood’s Aidan Dabal) in the hunt for top-four status and a CHSAA State Championships berth.
“He’s been a hard worker … all season long, and his work ethic and persistence are what allowed him to battle that opponent from Hotchkiss,” head coach Jordan Larsen stated proudly. “I’d say Micah has come from having no clue what wrestling is to being able to compete with opponents at a tough regional in a single season of wrestling … at a mainly ‘upperclassman’ weight.”
With 35 team points, Ignacio finished 12th out of the 15 teams attending, but two ’Cats managed to strive and survive long enough to see the season’s final weekend.
“We will be competing against the other best 15 wrestlers in the state, and that means that we are on an even playing field with those we come up against,” Larsen said. “The boys are working hard, and it is in their hands as to whether or not they take advantage of this rare opportunity.”
As expected, junior Dustin Sanchez was tough at 152 pounds and earned his ticket to Denver after going a third-place 2-1 at the regional.
Losing to Cedaredge senior Colton Hoerr early on Day 2 after getting a first-round ‘bye’ on Day 1 into the division’s semifinals, Sanchez recovered to pin NHS freshman Broc Joseph with five seconds left in the first period and then pinned Meeker sophomore Jacob Shelton 1:31 into the second period.
Standing 22-13 overall, Sanchez will first meet Fowler senior Chantz Lange (Region II runner-up, 27-10 going in) inside Pepsi Center. Another encounter with Hoerr could happen in the semifinals, but Sanchez would also need to defeat either Stratton senior Dayne Hines (4th at Region III, 14-11 going in) or Ordway-based Crowley County senior Ryan Rivera (Region IV champion, 17-9) should he get past Lange.
Bumped up to 145 pounds rather than his normal 138, IHS junior Skieler Grooms went 3-1 in Delta and placed third to earn his State spot. Losing only to Paonia senior Clay Campbell, the eventual champion, in the winners’ semifinals – following a second-period pin of Hayden senior Jake Planansky – Grooms bounced back to stick Mancos sophomore Breccen Morelli in an elapsed 2:07, and then defeated Norwood senior Riley Wilson 3-0.
Having improved to 17-10 overall before arriving in the Mile High City, Grooms’ first State opponent was to be Swink junior Kaleb Fisher (Region IV runner-up, 19-9 going in). Awaiting the winner would then be either Merino senior Remington Canfield (Region III champion, 33-3) or Pueblo Dolores Huerta Prep freshman Xavier Mendoza (4th at Region II, 10-9).
“They both had some outstanding regional tournaments … were able to show their ability to compete against tough opponents and come out victorious,” Larsen said, of Sanchez and Grooms. “Our focus this week is on not being satisfied.”
Like Westbrook (4-23 overall), sophomore 182-pounder Cesar Pedregon (9-15) finished 0-2 at the regional, though he nearly earned himself another match before losing 4-2 to Meeker’s Colby Clatterbaugh.
“His downfall … was mainly due to his inexperience and, in short, his tendency to just ‘wing it’ instead of using moves he does very well, as is the case with many young wrestlers,” said Larsen. “If he can change that between now and next season, I see no reason why he won’t qualify and potentially do some damage at next year’s State tourney.”
Finishing 4-15 this winter, heavyweight Randy Herrera actually earned sixth-place status in Delta despite finishing 0-3, with two losses coming via pin against Dolores’ Bryan Escarcega.
“Randy … honestly has also made some very real strides forward this year. He has developed some confidence, along with great development of his technical expertise,” said Larsen. “However, in order to be successful at 285, he will need to commit to a lot of weight training and offseason training – along with both Micah and Cesar. If he commits himself … Randy will be a much different wrestler at the start of next season.”
“We as coaches are very proud of all of these boys, and can’t wait to see how they shape their fate both this weekend and, in the future,” he continued. “I couldn’t ask for a greater group of honest, hard-working, and receptive young men to coach.”
2A-Region I Wrestling Champions
106 – Gage Bailey, Dove Creek; 113 – Adrian Nieto, Cedaredge; 120 – Sergio Campos, Hotchkiss; 126 – Sean Dale, Cedaredge; 132 – Traycer Hall, Hotchkiss; 138 – Tannen Kennedy, Meeker; 145 – Clay Campbell, Paonia; 152 – Grey Neal, Paonia; 160 – Aidan Dabal, Norwood; 170 – Jace Logan, Oak Creek Soroco; 182 – William Gabriel, Nucla; 195 – Devin Curtis, Hotchkiss; 220 – Sky Carlson, Oak Creek Soroco; 285 – Levi Peterson, Paonia.
2A-Region I Wrestling Standings
1. Cedaredge 228
2. Paonia 209.5
3. Hotchkiss 178
4. Norwood 121
5. Meeker 119.5
6. Oak Creek Soroco 83
7. Hayden 79
8. Mancos 62
9. Dolores 50
T-10.Dove Creek/Kremmling West Grand 39
12. IGNACIO 35
13. Nucla 26
14. Rangely 14
15. Walden North Park 6