Tune-up duals, Melton go Ignacio’s way

Lorenzo Pena
Blaine Mickey
Dixie Melton
Josh Gallegos
referee indicating
Ignacio 138-pounder Lorenzo Pena tries reining in Bayfield's Colter McMenimen during the teams' non-league dual inside IHS Gymnasium on Friday, Jan. 31. Ignacio downed BHS, 34 to 11, in final preparations for the next day's Butch Melton Invitational.
Ignacio 170-pounder Blaine Mickey, bottom, sticks Rangely's Ethan Allred with an unusual pin technique often dubbed a “crucifix” during their exhibition match as part of the teams' non-league dual inside IHS Gymnasium on Friday, Jan. 31. The Bobcats defeated the Panthers, 26 to 24, in preparation for the next day's Butch Melton Invitational.
With head coach Cody Haga looking on at rear, Ignacio assistant Jacob Appenzeller gives a thank-you squeeze to Dixie Melton on Saturday, Feb. 1, during a moment of recognition for the Butch Melton Invitational's late namesake.
Ignacio 220-pounder Josh Gallegos grips an ankle of Bloomfield, N.M.’s David DeHerrera in what would end up the closing seconds of their overtime thriller at the Butch Melton Invitational inside IHS Gymnasium on Saturday, Feb. 1. Gallegos would soon score a winning takedown, and the weight's championship medal.
With the referee indicating the winning number of points for a takedown, Ignacio 220-pounder Josh Gallegos leaps for joy after defeating Bloomfield, N.M.’s David DeHerrera 6-4 in overtime for the weight's championship medal, ending the 2014 Butch Melton Invitational inside IHS Gymnasium on Saturday, Feb. 1.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

Gallegos’ barn-burner ends weekend

Late Thursday, Jan. 30, inside IHS Gymnasium there was rowdy atmosphere, almost as though the Bobcat boys were still dominating Dolores for a sixth or seventh quarter of San Juan Basin League basketball.

“Let’s get some color in this place!” Ignacio wrestling head coach Cody Haga said, a red mat beginning to cover the midcourt circle, bordered on each side by a black mat extending from the floor to the wall in preparation for a long weekend highlighted by the 2014 Butch Melton Invitational.

A fantastic finale highlighted the invitational with all eyes on the 220-pounders: 3A Bloomfield, N.M., sophomore David DeHerrera and, fittingly, Ignacio junior Josh Gallegos.

Bloomfield’s Lorenzo LaMere had needed only 35 seconds on the adjacent mat to pin 4A Aztec, N.M.’s Jordyn Garcia to win the heavyweight division – what would normally have been the meet’s closer – allowing fans to savor virtually all six regulation minutes, ended by a 4-4 scoreboard deadlock.

“You have to want it,” Gallegos said. “Mental toughness. That’s it; I had to do it, had to get it.”

“Coaches pound that into our heads from day one: Mental toughness is always key to winning your match,” concurred senior teammate Christian Knoll. “You could be strong, or fast – mental toughness is always the ace in the hole.”

Observing Gallegos’ match not far from the Bobcat coaches’ chairs, Knoll knew how tough Gallegos would need to be in the upcoming overtime. Shoved off the mat by 4A Farmington (N.M.) Piedra Vista’s Avery Norton, he himself shaken off a slam into the venue’s wall to recover and dominate the Panther, 13 to 2, for the 182-pound championship and Upper Weight Outstanding Wrestler Award.

“Felt awesome,” said Knoll of his final prep win at the meet. “I’m here to represent the late Mr. Melton, and I’m really glad I could.”

Readied for the day by non-league duals – and victories – the night before against 2A Rangely and 3A Bayfield (by scores of 26-24 and 34-11, respectively), the Cats, minus injured Iaasic Pena (left MCL), did the program’s former mentor proud with a strong third-place finish overall.

In addition to Knoll’s conquest, Stocker Robbins beat out Dove Creek’s Colin Hobbs to capture the 106-pounders’ title, and Ignacio’s 105.5-point tally also included second-place results from Ethan Appenzeller at 126 and Lorenzo Pena at 138. His crucifix-style pin of Rangely’s Ethan Allred in an exhibition match still a lingering visual from the duals, Blaine Mickey earned third at 170 with a defeat of PV’s Aaron Simpson.

Bobcats Colton Logan and Charles Rohde even had to go at an entertaining head-to-head to decide fifth place at 132, with Logan prevailing and assistant coach Jordan Larsen seated mat side – evenly in between the pairs of coaches’ chairs to attempt neutrality.

“The boys are tired, sore right now – we just started morning practice. They showed up and wrestled tonight, and that’s all you can really ask for,” Haga said after the duals. “Especially in the tradition that they’re in right now; we’re pushing for regionals and preparing ourselves for the tournament [2A-Region I, Feb. 14-15] that matters.”

Then one could consider Gallegos well warned of what lies ahead.

Still sweating buckets long after the match, Ignacio’s lone State Championships qualifier from last season finally managed to prevail over DeHerrera with a two-point takedown – leading to a elated leap with arms outstretched, absorbing as much as possible the energy echoing in the venue.

“It was pretty intense, but it’s what we’ve been training for, what we’ve been preparing ourselves for – that extra fight,” Gallegos said.

“I was very … on the edge of my seat, ecstatic. I wanted him to take a shot,” Knoll said. “He’s my best friend so I was like, ‘C’mon man! Just go for it! I know you can take a shot!’ Like, ‘You’ll get your points!’ And lo and behold, he did!”

“You couldn’t ask for a better way to finish a tournament, going into overtime and winning a big match like that,” Haga said. “That was cool. He’s a hard worker and I hope he continues working hard so we can get that son-of-a-gun qualified [for State]!”

“We worked for it. That’s what it is: work,” Gallegos said. “But what it means to me is … an accomplishment. It’s a goal I set for myself, and I achieved it. Now I have that much more to go further.”

Where the crowds will only be larger and louder.

The Bobcats’ next action was at the SJBL Championships on Thursday, Feb. 6, but results were unavailable by the Drum’s deadline.

2014 BUTCH MELTON INVITATIONAL STANDINGS: 1.Bloomfield (N.M.) 154.5, 2.Farmington (N.M.) Piedra Vista 137, 3.IGNACIO 105.5, 4.Dove Creek 84.5, 5.Rangely 57, 6.Aztec (N.M.) 52.5, 7.Bayfield 44, 8.Nucla 23, 9.Mancos 13.

2014 BUTCH MELTON INVITATIONAL CHAMPIONS: 106–STOCKER ROBBINS, IGN; 113–Taylor Atencio, PV; 120–Ryan Nava, BAY; 126–Case Baughman, DC; 132–Chance Randolph, DC; 138–Colter McMenimen, BAY [O/W]; 145–Troy Rightmire, BLM; 152–Alex Portillo, BLM; 160–J.D. Robinson, BLM; 170–Brett Donaldson, AZT; 182–CHRISTIAN KNOLL, IGN [O/W]; 195–Paul Jaramillo, BLM; 220–JOSH GALLEGOS, IGN; 285–Lorenzo LaMere, BLM.

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