IHS grapplers bring back 16th from Paonia

Herrera places fourth amongst heavyweights

Minus regulars Dante Sandman (132 pounds) and Jeremy Roderick (220), the Ignacio High wrestling team traveled north to Paonia for that school’s 33rd Annual Screaming Eagle Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 25, and still managed – with only four grapplers available – to almost crack the final standings’ top 15.

Led by senior heavyweight Randy Herrera, the Bobcats amassed 44 points and finished 16th out of 23 scoring teams in the final standings. Topping the table with 236 points was Cedaredge, at the time No. 3 in Class 2A in On The Mat’s rankings, with Walsenburg-based John Mall (198.5) and PHS (189.5) – Nos. 6 and 4, respectively – the Bruins’ closest competitors.

Herrera made short work of his first two foes, pinning 3A New Castle Coal Ridge sophomore Rafael Sanchez in only 1:12 and PHS freshman Malachi Deck in 2:17. Facing No. 9 Hotchkiss’ Christian Matus in the semis, the big ’Cat finally met an equal; Matus, a junior, won by pin 59 seconds into the second two-minute period.

Still alive on the backside of the bracket, Herrera (8-6) next stood in against 2A Rangely sophomore Byron MacKay and pulled out a tense 3-1 overtime win to advance to the third-place test. Unfortunately, his run ended there; 3A Parachute Grand Valley’s Hayden Grice survived the regulation six minutes and owned a 6-1 lead when time expired.

At 126 pounds, freshman Keaton McCoy (17-10) placed fifth, beating JMHS junior Zander Ross after a 6-3 loss to 2A Walden North Park senior Destry Schmidt in the consolation-bracket semifinals. For the tournament, McCoy went 3-2 and notched two pins.

Down a weight class from an earlier norm of 138 pounds, sophomore Isaac Welker competed at 132 but went 0-2, losing to Paonia’s Reagan Todd and 2A Oak Creek Soroco’s Gavyn Salberg.

Following a first-round ‘bye,’ 152-pounder Tyler Barnes went on to post a second-period pin of 2A San Juan Basin League rival Gage Owen of Norwood, then in the quarterfinals stuck another SJBL’er, Mancos’ Colt Fury, in the first. PHS senior Zeb Etter, however, then got in the way and prevailed by pin in only 39 ticks, leaving the Bobcat sophomore to battle for a best-possible third-place result.

HHS’ Traycer Hall then pinned Barnes 1:39 into the first period, but Barnes (13-11) managed to salvage fifth place over John Mall’s Anthony Aldretti.

Up next, the ’Cats will host their annual Butch Melton Memorial Invitational on Saturday, Feb. 1, then also host the SJBL Championships on Feb. 6. Results from IHS’ rescheduled 1/28 league dual at MHS were unavailable at press time Monday, Jan. 27.

2020 Paonia Screaming Eagle Invitational Standings

1. Cedaredge 236, 2. Walsenburg John Mall 198.5, 3. Paonia 189.5, T-4. Hayden & Meeker 150, 6. Parachute Grand Valley 126, 7. Hotchkiss 121.5, 8. Palisade 82,  9. Rangely 77, 10. Norwood 70, 11. Gunnison 54.5, 12. Walden North Park 53, 13. Mancos 51, T-14. Basalt & Kremmling West Grand 46, 16. IGNACIO 44, 17. New Castle Coal Ridge 42, 18. Center 30, 19. Dolores 27,  20. Oak Creek Soroco 25, 21. Nucla 19, 22. Dove Creek 12, 23. Olathe 6.

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