Thu Feb 28th, 2019
Special to the Drum
Senior Dustin Sanchez’s Facebook post said it all, “No more late practice, no more cutting weight, no more trips with my friends that have become family,” it read. “It’s all over. Not the way I wanted my last state tournament to end, but it is what it is.”
Making his second trip to Denver’s Pepsi Center for the CHSAA Class 2A State Wrestling Championships, Feb. 21-23, Sanchez began well at 160 pounds with a 3-2 win over Rocky Ford junior Isiah Garcia, but then lost an 8-0 major decision to Wray senior Cade Hillman, the eventual State Runner-up.
Center’s Mario Chavez then eliminated the Ignacio senior – initially seeded ninth (Hillman was the No. 1) at the weight – by a 3-0 verdict in the early consolation-bracket rounds, abruptly finalizing Sanchez’s senior-year record at 29 up, 9 down. Hillman lost the championship bout 5-1 to Buena Vista junior Micah Hertrich and finished 45-6 (Hertrich improved to 30-3), while Chavez lost his next match to Paonia’s Grey Neal and finished 32-11.
“Had a hell of a career,” Sanchez wrote, “going from winning only 2 [sic] matches my freshman year to qualifying 2x [sic] to state and placing once. All the life lessons this sport has taught me will only push me to work harder at everything else in life.”
All told, Hillman and WHS dominated all comers in piling up a first-place 166 team points – almost a whole other tournament ahead of second-place Cedaredge (96) and third-place La Jara Centauri (95). PHS took fourth with 93.5 points, while Walsenburg John Mall (93) rounded out an otherwise-competitive top five.
With six qualifiers IHS managed to total 12 points and place 32nd overall out of 52 crews, as well as second-highest amongst the San Juan Basin League’s squads as Norwood (18 points) tied Intermountain Leaguers Monte Vista for 28th.
Junior Clay Campbell (12-21) went 0-2 at 170 and was pinned by both Ordway-based Crowley County’s Jorge Valdez and La Jara-based Centauri’s Byron Shawcroft. Junior heavyweight Randy Herrera (14-8) lost his first match by pin, and was eliminated courtesy of RFHS’ Peyton Froman by a narrow 8-5 score.
Senior 126-pounder Hunter Robbins (17-17) was also ousted from competition by a close call, as he fell 8-7 to Trinidad’s Dylan Armijo after being pinned in just 0:18 by Lyons sophomore Oran Huff – who went on to defeat Centauri freshman Eyan Chavez 5-3 for the ultimate prize.
Classmate Skieler Grooms (25-13) managed to pick up a first-round win at 138 over Burlington’s Michael Gutierrez, pinning the Cougar 59 seconds into the third period, but then lost 3-1 to RFHS’ Santino Mendoza in the quarterfinals and 6-3 to Rangely’s Tytus Coombs with a best possible finish of third still quite distant.
Surviving longest out of all the ’Cats was Cesar Pedregon. The junior 182-pounder finished just one win away from a top-six podium result as he went 2-2 in the Mile High City. Rebounding from a 6-2, first-round loss to senior Dawson Roesch of the Wiley-McClave co-op called ‘County Line,’ Pedregon pinned Hanover junior William Anderson in only 15 seconds, then stuck WHS sophomore Ty Hardesty in just 42.
Trinidad’s Jesus Diaz, however, ended IHS’ weekend even earlier than most expected, pulling out a 9-6 decision finalizing Pedregon’s season record at 27-13. Diaz eventually finished 26-7 after winning the third-place test, while Roesch (35-5) would prevail 7-6 in the fifth-place rumble.