Thu Feb 24th, 2022
Special to the Drum
Two fall in cons. quarters; IHS places 32nd
Nearly able to lift and flip Rocky Ford’s Kevin Tillman tie-down-roping style for a takedown and/or potential pin, Jeremy Roderick made a State Championships freshman mistake in the process and ultimately lost his Day 1 bout – via pin in an elapsed 3:04 – Thursday afternoon, Feb. 17, inside Ball Arena to the Meloneer junior.
Relegated to the Class 2A heavyweights’ consolation bracket, Ignacio’s senior wasted comparatively no time rallying.
Drawing Cedaredge junior Jacob Anderson next, Roderick made quick work of the Bruin, pinning him in 27 seconds and surviving to next see Rangely senior Byron Mackay – victim of an upset in the winners’ quarterfinals, after arriving in the Mile High City an imposing 39-2 overall.
Not appearing overly worried, Roderick again summoned all the energy he had against the much larger Panther, but Mackay was, unfortunately, a man on a mission. Pinned 29 ticks into the second period, Roderick’s chance to still place at the 2021-22 season’s grandest gathering had disappeared on Day 2, far too early.
“We went back and forth against that kid,” said Roderick (19-9 overall), asked in which match he felt he wrestled his finest. “I felt like I was ready for it, but it just seems way different than districts and all other tournaments I was in. So I was a little scared, but … . Honestly I’m just happy I made it here; this was a new experience for me.”
Unluckily for the Bobcats, the big ’Cat exiting early was a daunting omen.
Senior Tyler Barnes’ title dreams also disappeared on the 17th, as he tangled with Wray junior Payton Wade and lost by 15-0 technical fall 50 ticks into the third period. Still with a best-possible, yet still-distant finish of third at 170 pounds, Barnes went back to work on Day 2 and first faced Rocky Ford senior Jadon Huerta in consolation-round action.
Surviving another round by pinning Huerta in an elapsed 3:53, Barnes next squared off against Crowley County sophomore Robert San Juan and prevailed by 9-6 decision.
Needing one more victory to be guaranteed sixth place at worst, Barnes’ run – and prep wrestling career – sadly came to an end the morning of Day 3 as Meeker senior Kelton Turner, the weight’s initial 7-seed, managed to flatten the Bobcat (25-11 final record) with just nine ticks left in the first two-minute period.
“What a couple seniors we’re losing in Tyler and Jeremy – plus Lexy Young, one of our girls,” IHS head coach Jordan Larsen said. “Losing those kids … that’s going to suck, but I’m very, very much looking to what we have moving forward.”
“They’ve definitely earned it and I’m proud as a teammate,” said Lady ’Cat Faye Hackett, speaking on her fellow grapplers’ achievements culminating with a return to the Championships. “It means a lot; I’m excited to watch them.”
Qualifying for CHSAA’s first Girls’ State Championships to be held simultaneously and under a shared roof, Hackett lost by pin on Day 1 to Yuma senior Fatima Duran, downed 18 seconds into the second period at 127 pounds. Pit next against 5A Broomfield Legacy – the girls’ tournament was single-classification – senior Melanie Perez in a consolation first-rounder, Hackett fought her hardest but fell short, 8-6, and finished her breakout junior season standing 19-10 overall.
“My heart just dropped down, like, to my stomach,” she said, having surrendered four points within the penultimate 12 seconds, including Perez’s winning two-point near-fall. “But I was excited … and I was nervous, but that’s how you should feel before a match, right? I mean, it’s kind of overwhelming.”
“I’ve never achieved something like this and I’m just really grateful for all the support I have back home in Ignacio,” Hackett continued. “It’s just been a really good experience; we definitely are a big family, we love each other, and … it’s important that our team just stays strong.”
Ignacio junior Keaton McCoy began the Championships in dominant fashion at 145 pounds, routing Pueblo Dolores Huerta Prep junior Omar Soto by 22-11 major decision to move into the quarterfinals where he met Ault Highland senior Zach Tittle, the division’s 1-seed. Showing form even more aggressive than what had earned him last season’s State Championship at 138, Tittle handled his business in only 0:51 – relegating McCoy to the consolation rounds via pin.
Pit next against Swink senior Jed Garcia, McCoy got back on track with a 9-5 victory and endured to next stand in against Wray freshman Samuel Meisner. Initially seeded fourth behind Tittle, Hayden senior Dylan Zimmerman and CCHS sophomore Aiden Halloran, Meisner followed up his preceding consolation-round pin of Greeley Dayspring Christian freshman Logan Clark needing seven fewer seconds (3:50 elapsed, then 3:43) to pin McCoy and reach the consolation semis.
“My freshman year … it was a big eye-opener. This year, I just knew I had to come and get it,” McCoy said, comparing his two non-sequential State showings to date. “First match of a tournament is always a bit funky; you just have to have a little bit of fun out there, get loose, and get used to it again.”
“Won my first match, lost my second, then won my third but ended up losing in the ‘blood’ round. Yeah, we had some tough matches – I guess we could take away from this just to keep pushing each other to do the best we can.”
McCoy finished the ’21-22 campaign 24-10 overall; Meisner improved at the time to an outstanding 44-10. (He’d then get a free pass into the third-fourth place bout, due to Halloran declaring a second medical forfeit after the first cost him his semifinals test versus Zimmerman.)
But the Bobcats wouldn’t depart Denver on a down note.
Following the three-day spectacle’s traditional Parade of Champions – presenting the two remaining contenders in each weight and classification – beginning the Saturday night session, the tournament featured a half-dozen ‘Unified’ exhibition bouts. Riling up the former Pepsi Center’s crowd, last to step onto a mat was IHS sophomore Cayle McCoy.
Facing, coincidentally, San Juan Basin League rival Jayden Bailey of Dove Creek before fans roughly 15,000 in number, the younger McCoy (6-25 after going 0-2 at the previous weekend’s Region I meet in Buena Vista) scrapped his way to a 7-3 win showing improvement upon a close 6-4 win at the SJBL Championships in Norwood.
“Big crowd … that kind of scared me a little bit! Most definitely,” said McCoy. “It’s kind of scary, kind of exciting – both at the same time. You make one mistake, and you could lose your match.”
“I’m excited for the next season.”
“On his development this year, he’s done a great job … but it was a little harder to see – it’s just a different level of competition,” Larsen said. “But he’s a joy to have on the team, puts a smile on everybody’s face.”
“We brought a couple seniors that have been working for a while to get here, going through their own challenges, and we got a couple underclassmen – Faye, Keaton and, of course, Cayle – which is outstanding,” he added. “So, for the young kids I’m happy they got the exposure. In general, I’m just very, very proud of the kids we brought up here.”
All told, Ignacio’s boys totaled 13 team points and tied Olathe for 32nd place in Class 2A. 44 teams registered at least one point, led by State Champions Wray (167.5), Runners-up Meeker (146) and third place La Jara Centauri (144).