Christmas Break came perhaps a little faster for his wrestlers than Jordan Larsen would have liked, based on what he witnessed in Ignacio's final wrestling action of the "Old Year."
Hosting Mancos in a 2A San Juan Basin League dual Thursday night, Dec. 20, the Bobcats' numerical superiority over the Blue Jays helped produce a 37-12 victory. But with 24 of those points coming via MHS forfeits to Skieler Grooms at 138 pounds, Clay Campbell at 182, Cesar Pedregon at 195 and Randy Herrera at heavyweight, well, you do the math.
"I would say that our focus maybe isn't where it was a week ago, but that's to be expected right before break," Larsen said. "But other than that I thought it was a good performance tonight overall."
Tyler Barnes' 70-second pin of Andrew Ruatti at 145 proved the victors' most drama-free performance, as the other four contested weights had fans inside IHS Gymnasium roaring.
Starting the event off at 120 pounds, Mancos freshman Trevor Paquin handled business with a 51-second pin of Ignacio freshman Isaac Welker, officially giving the guests a 6-0 lead. Mancos teamm embers knew that despite the points they had to forfeit, they still had a chance at victory.
At 126, IHS' Hunter Robbins survived Ty Everett 2-0 via a takedown during the first 1-minute overtime period, halving the deficit to 6-3. Grooms' forfeit win gave the 'Cats a 9-6 lead, with Barnes' pin increasing it to 15-6. Neither side sent out a 152-pounder (ditto at 106, 113, 132 and 170). At 160, Colt Fury of Mancos caught Dustin Sanchez off his game early and took a 2-1 lead after two regulation minutes.
The Bobcat senior, however, then racked up eight unanswered points in the second period en route to a 13-3 major decision, putting the home team up 19-6.
"He just came out slow, wasn't ready to wrestle, and he was the first to admit that," said Larsen. "And as far as I'm concerned, being able to admit that as a wrestler - a senior and a captain - he'll learn from it and come back strong later. But he got the job done, which is as much as anyone can ask for."
With their advantage decisively increased to 31-6 via Campbell's and Pedregon's unchallenged appearances, the Bobcats sought to seal the deal at 220 pounds with eager freshman Jeremy Roderick standing in against MHS junior Nic Dan.
Befitting his fresh Mohawk-style haircut, trimmed neatly by injured senior heavyweight and brother Lucas, Roderick looked to set an aggressive pace right from the opening whistle against the Blue Jay, whose right arm was heavily taped to protect a hyper-extended elbow.
Dan, however, ably held his ground and waited for an opening allowing him to take Roderick to the mat and notch a pin in just 57 seconds.
"I wouldn't say there was any 'mistake' in particular, just learning lessons for later on," Larsen said. "He's going to be a good wrestler. Just needs to work on the little things, figure out a style for himself, and he'll be tough."
Herrera's forfeit win followed, sealing the Bobcats' final victory in 2018.
"I'm looking forward to getting a little break - along with the boys - and coming back strong right after Christmas!" he added. Ignacio's first action of 2019 will come Saturday, Jan. 5, when IHS will battle 3A Bayfield and 4A Durango inside DHS' DemonDome for La Plata County bragging rights. The triangular is set to begin at noon.
The 'Cats will then see tournament action Saturday, Jan. 12, at Pagosa Springs' Rocky Mountain Invitational.