Ranked eighth in the most recent On The Mat Class 2A poll at 152 pounds, Ignacio junior Dustin Sanchez will bring San Juan Basin League Champion status with him to Delta High School this weekend, where he and his fellow Bobcats will hope to extend their respective seasons, officially begun Nov. 10, one last week.
But at the 2A-Region I Championships, doing so will be a tall order for anyone and everyone.
Six of the classification's 14 number-one ranked wrestlers are slated to compete, along with perennial team powers such as Paonia, Cedaredge, Hotchkiss and Meeker. Only the top four placers per weight will advance to the Feb. 15-17 State Championships, to be held inside Pepsi Center in Denver.
"We are extremely excited to get to Delta," said IHS head coach Jordan Larsen. "We continue to work our tails off in the practice room, and hope to bring the best performances of the season to the table."
Enjoying a solid junior season, most recently counting a technical-fall win over his Norwood foe at the Feb. 1 SJBL Duals in Dolores, Sanchez will join PHS' fourth-ranked Grey Neal, CHS' sixth-ranked Colton Hoerr and HHS' ninth-ranked Jace Peebles as favorites at the weight.
At 138 pounds, Ignacio's Skieler Grooms will have his work cut out to earn top-four distinction in a loaded bracket featuring not just #1-ranked Tannen Kennedy of Meeker, but also #2 Sackett Chesnik of Paonia, #3 Keenan Hayes of Hayden, and #5 David Schipmann of Cedaredge.
Top-ranked Aidan Dabal of Norwood will be among those joining IHS freshman Micah Westbrook in contention at 160 pounds, while sophomore Cesar Pedregon will be in the mix at 182 along with SJBL rivals Cameron Fury of Mancos and Nucla's #3 Will Gabriel.
Both 'Cats notched one pin each at the Duals, and each placed third. Heavyweight Randy Herrera lost a 4-0 result to Dolores' Bryan Escarcega, but still came in second and may have to worry about just two top-10 wrestlers -Cedaredge's #2 Derek Sanchez and Hotchkiss' #7 Nolan Egging - in Delta.
"We all have one common goal, which is to qualify for the state tournament," Larsen said. "One match at a time, one second at a time."