DOVE CREEK - Delayed earlier in the day by a problem with ubiquitous meet-managing website Trackwrestling.com, the end of the Dec. 8 Dove Creek 'Dawg Fight' was still worth the extra wait.
At 220 pounds on the center of three mats inside DCHS Gymnasium, with first place at stake, Bayfield senior Daniel Westbrook was forced to go against BHS junior John Foutz. And with neither Wolverine giving the other much of an attackable opening, the pair strove for the full six minutes with Westbrook earning a 7-3 decision.
He finished the day 3-0 while Foutz ended up 2-1 (with two pins in less than 30 seconds each; Westbrook notched two in less than 45 each).
Shutting the Saturday down, the event's heavyweight division came down to a clash between Ignacio's Randy Herrera and IHS' Lucas Roderick. Experience won out, with Herrera pinning the senior newcomer 1 minute, 17 seconds into the third period, finishing the day 2-0 and becoming the Bobcats' sixth champion at the meet. Roderick went 1-1.
Four Wolverines in all earned titles, meaning the Pine River Valley prevailed in 10 of 14 weights, and with more wrestlers available than Ignacio, Bayfield piled up 162.5 points and secured the team championship.
"It was a strong day across the board, and I think this is a huge step for us," head coach Todd McMenimen said, just before exiting through the school's front doors. "The kids are really starting to buy into what we're teaching them."
The 'Cats scored 142.5 points and placed second, ahead of Durango (106), Farmington (60), and Del Norte (43).
"Outstanding effort and energy, representing their community, families, school, and themselves with class and integrity," IHS coach Jordan Larsen said. "I am extremely proud of this group of boys from new to experienced, as is the coaching staff as a whole."
Preceding Herrera during the medal presentations were 195-pounder Cesar Pedregon (3-0; victorious by first-period pin over BHS' Paden Williamson, who went 2-1), 160-pounder Dustin Sanchez (5-0; winner by first-period pin over DCHS' Will McKellips), 145-pounder Tyler Barnes (3-1; first-period pin of Durango's Ben Belt), 138-pounder Skieler Grooms (4-0; third-period pin of DHS' Paul Smagacz), and 126-pounder Hunter Robbins (4-0; third-period pin of Mancos' Ty Everett).
BHS' Dylan Pickering earned the 132-pound crown by pinning Durango's Jacob Rowe in only 12 seconds. He started his 5-0 day sticking FHS' Mateo Sandoval in 15 seconds. Then 113-pounder Simon Schneider clinched a winning 2-0 day by pinning IHS' Isaac Welker in 40. And in the finale at 170, Shane Moore trounced DNHS' Fischer Jones by 15-2 major decision for a fifth win in as many tries.
He finished the day with four pins, putting him in the running for Outstanding Upper-weight Wrestler, which ultimately went to Westbrook. Dove Creek's Gage Bailey received Lower-weight O/W after going 4-0 and winning the 120-pound championship via a first-period pin of Bayfield's Xander Hovenstine, who finished 3-1.