Fri Dec 4th, 2020
Special to the Drum
Tags: 2021 Riverside Rumble, Alex Pena, Bobcats, Butch Melton Memorial Invitational, CHSAA’s COVID-altered regulations, Cody Haga, Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA), Dante Sandman, Isaac Welker, Jeremy Roderick, Jordan Larsen, Keaton McCoy, Norwood/Nucla Tournament, Pepsi Center, Randy Herrera, Trinidad’s Gene Gagliardi Invitational, Tyler Barnes
IHS’ first official practice set for Jan. 4
Limited by the Colorado High School Activities Association’s COVID-19 mitigation protocols to a maximum of seven duals and seven days’ worth of tournament action, Bobcat wrestlers will still have plenty of action ahead of them during the shortened 2020-21 winter season.
And to longtime head coach Jordan Larsen, any mat time is valuable mat time.
“Wrestling in our program in Ignacio requires three things: Hard work, loyalty, and guts,” he’d said during a previous interview. “Men that finished our season … developed these things and are growing as young men of integrity as a result.”
“It is the recipe for success for any athletic program.”
Graduation claimed two-time CHSAA Class 2A State Championships-qualifying heavyweight Randy Herrera, as well as transfer and former New Mexico Activities Association State qualifier Dante Sandman (whose ’19-20 season ended with a 2A-Region I Championships sixth-place finish at 132 pounds), but Larsen’s varsity roster will hopefully still feature a pair of Pepsi Center veterans desiring returns to the renamed – as of Oct. 22 – Ball Arena.
“The two that qualified,” said Larsen, alluding to current sophomore Keaton McCoy and junior Tyler Barnes, “did so because they began to understand how to own those traits and use them every day of training. They are buying into the philosophy of the program, and inherently of myself.”
“Randy had a tough tournament,” he noted of Herrera, who progressed in said program from a winless freshman to a 16-11 senior notching one win in three 2020 State bouts, “but honestly … developed some confidence, along with great development of his technical expertise.”
With an impressive 40 results on his rookie-year prep ledger, McCoy traveled to Denver last season at 126 pounds, and despite a 1-2 record at State ended up an outstanding 24-16 overall. On the mend from an ankle injury incurred during IHS’ 2020 cross-country season and re-aggravated during the Bobcats’ late-starting football campaign, Barnes went 0-2 at 152 but still finished 18-17 as Ignacio’s trio accumulated enough points to share 35th place in the grand finale’s final team standings.
Junior XC/FB participant Jeremy Roderick likely will be another returning veteran, having filled the 220-pound slot in ’19-20, and 138-pounder Isaac Welker could again be back in the fold along with any number of incoming freshmen having learned from Ignacio Middle School mentors – and former IHS greats – Alex Pena and Cody Haga.
According to CHSAA, weight certification could begin Nov. 1 and must be completed prior to competition – which, according to the schedule released Monday, Nov. 30, IHS will first see at a Jan. 14, 2021, triangular at non-league Del Norte. Ringing in the New Year, official practices will have finally commenced ten days before, barring further COVID complications.
Amongst some notable changes from last winter’s itinerary will be a trip to the Jan. 16 Norwood/Nucla Tournament, at which the ’Cats will begin getting looks at San Juan Basin League competition including the Mavericks and Mustangs. That will continue on the 21st as reigning circuit champs Mancos and Dolores both enter IHS Gymnasium for a 6 p.m. triangular.
The SJBL Championships, hosted this season by MHS (which took last season’s dual versus IHS, 30-24), are slated to then follow at 6 p.m. Feb. 4, and Ignacio will seek to continue building last-month momentum two days later at the Montrose Invitational – another stop replacing ultra-competitive meets like Front Range force Florence’s Mel Smith Husky Invite and Western Slope power Paonia’s Screaming Eagle Invite.
IHS’ lone regular-season journey east of the Continental Divide will be to Trinidad’s Gene Gagliardi Invitational on Feb. 13, and the Bobcats will then begin readying themselves to host the 2021 Riverside Rumble – a triangular for La Plata County bragging rights involving 4A Durango and 3A Bayfield – on Thurs., Feb. 18.
With perfect opportunity to pump up morale prior to the postseason, Ignacio will wrap up regular-season work on the 20th, hosting the Butch Melton Memorial Invitational beginning at 9:30 a.m. Like all meets, however, the popular Melton will be limited to just eight teams as per CHSAA’s COVID-altered regs.
The two-day regional tournament is presently set for Feb. 26-27, with State – reduced this season to a one-day, double-elimination spectacle utilizing eight-person brackets per weight – awaiting Sat., March 6.
Of course, within the global pandemic climate, all whos, whats, wheres and whens are subject to change.
Whereas the State Championships will employ eight-person brackets, regionals will still go with 16-person ladders, though only first and second placers per weight will qualify for State. Additionally, the first seven weight classes will compete on Day 1, with the next seven on Day 2. Wrestlebacks will only happen from quarterfinals on, and team scoring at both regionals and State will count placers 1-4.