Thu Mar 14th, 2019
Special to the Drum
Rarely is wrestling anything but an uphill battle. Not just against one’s opponent, but more often than not, oneself – particularly in terms of skills acquisition and general day-to-day development in the practice room.
“Randy, similar to many of our upperclassmen this year, went from a 0-point freshman season to 2nd [place] at regionals and a State qualifier as a junior,” said Ignacio head coach Jordan Larsen, discussing current heavyweight Randy Herrera as an example of rewarded dedication.
Herrera was recently announced as having been named one of 13 All-San Juan Basin League Wrestling Team members after going 14-8 overall during the 2018-19 season. At the 2A-Region I Championships held in Montrose he placed second to Paonia’s Levi Peterson, then went 0-2 at the CHSAA Class 2A State Championships – losing his last bout by an 8-5 decision to Rocky Ford’s Peyton Froman (Peterson would place second to La Jara Centauri’s Bennie Chacon) – in Denver.
“His commitment to the program and to himself cannot be understated, and I cannot wait to see where Randy pushes himself next season as a senior,” said Larsen, who was named SJBL Coach-of-the-Year after helping motivate Herrera, seniors Dustin Sanchez (160 pounds), Skieler Grooms (138) and Hunter Robbins (126), as well as junior Cesar Pedregon (182) to see the Mile High City.
A by-rule regional fourth-placer at 170 pounds, following a semifinals loss to Oak Creek Soroco star Jace Logan (eventually the 2A State Champion at the weight), Clay Campbell also represented IHS inside the Pepsi Center and, despite losing both his bouts there by pin, finished his season an optimism-generating 12-21.
“Clay joined the Bobcats for the first time since eighth grade, and was the surprise of the squad as he qualified for State in his first high-school season despite his record,” said Larsen. “His ability to work through the obstacles and come away as top-16 in the state is unbelievable, and we are ecstatic to have him coming back next year.”
“We are building a program here in Ignacio. Not a quick-fix. Not a star-filled glory season. A program,” Larsen emphasized. “Our goal is to make sure we are sending the hardest-working and most integrity-filled human beings out … into the real world. Wrestling is the bonus.”
“Of the six qualifiers we sent to state this year, four of them were first-timers, four of the six have only been in the sport three to six years, and five of the six had a first-year season of less than six wins,” he noted. “We’ll take that improvement any year over a State Championship. I cannot wait to see what our returning athletes do next season, and I cannot wait to continue to push our high school athletes to be the best in the future.”
Earning SJBL Wrestler-of-the-Year was Nucla senior Will Gabriel (32-3). The only Mustang to qualify for State, NHS’ 182-pounder followed up his second-place result last year at the weight by earning first in 2019 via a 3-1 tiebreaker win over Hayden’s Hunter Planansky (35-6).
Gabriel and Norwood’s Austin Overholt (26-8) were the only All-SJBL selections who managed to place at State (Overholt took fifth at 160, defeating Centauri’s Zach Sandoval 10-4) this time around.
2019 ALL-SJBL WRESTLING TEAM
106—Joshua Alexander, Norwood; 113—Gage Bailey, Dove Creek; 120—Cash Joseph, Norwood; 126—Harley Workman, Norwood; 132—Lot Martin, Mancos; 138—Tad Sickels, Nucla; 145—Jace Sinks, Norwood; 152—James Franklin, Norwood; 160—Austin Overholt, Norwood; 170—CLAY CAMPBELL, IGNACIO; 182—Will Gabriel, Nucla; 195—none selected; 220—Bryan Escarcega, Dolores; Heavyweight—RANDY HERRERA, IGNACIO.