Young Cats maturing with action

Preseason held a strong preview for Ruben Velasquez — and, for that matter, Ignacio High’s wrestling newcomers as a whole in 2012-13 — before it even officially began.

Stepping onto the mat Saturday, Nov. 3 at Rocky Mountain Nationals’ Monster Match National in Denver, Velasquez — competing at 156 pounds in the 15U age division — lost his first match by pin in less than a minute, and was eliminated in his second by a minimum-score technical fall.

His opening opponent, Vernal, Utah’s Alek Shope, had just begun his eighth-grade year at VJHS, and follow-up foe Lane Saunders had just cracked ninth at Los Alamos (New Mexico) High.

But despite being comparable in age to the Bobcat, the opponents’ skill — Shope a member of in-town Extreme Wrestling, a feeder club for 3A stronghold Uintah, and Saunders an NMAA Class 4A State Championships qualifier (going 3-2 at 138) in ’12 as an eighth-grader — indeed proved superior.

At least there was an idea of what prep-level wrestling would be like, meet in and meet out.

And through the 2012 half of Ignacio’s schedule, Velasquez and classmates Javan Webb, Mathew Powell and Dustin Hall have learned those ropes through lumps gained, yielding a cumulative record of 20-30 through the Saturday, Dec. 22 Piedra Vista Invitational.

More will come in rapid succession. That’s not necessarily bad; the Cats have already twice shown San Juan Basin League nemesis Dolores their determination, losing a close 36-30 dual on Friday, Dec. 21 at DHS, but atoning for it with a 30-30 draw the next day in Farmington, N.M.

Ignacio leaps into 2013 at the Friday, Jan. 11 Rocky Mountain Duals in Pagosa Springs, then continues at the Pirates’ Rocky Mountain Invitational the next day (9 a.m. start).

The 42nd Annual Rob Mickel Memorial Invite awaits Saturday, Jan. 19 in Salida, with an overnighter in Paonia — for the PHS Mixed Duals on Jan. 25 and the Screaming Eagle Invitational on Jan. 26 — also quickly approaching.

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