In releasing the Week 10 On The Mat high school rankings before the San Juan Basin League Duals began Feb. 7 in Dove Creek, longtime wrestling observer/analyst Tim Yount stated the obvious in looking ahead to the regional tournament weekend of Feb. 15-16.
“All one needs to do is put together two great weekends of wrestling. Not complicated but very hard to do,” he wrote in his comments, summarizing any individual’s plan of attack for regional and state success. “We see (it) often – kids who have incredible two-week stretches.
It will happen again. Few will see it coming. At least three kids will place who have barely .500 records
“You sleepwalk now and it will cost you. Again, everyone is 0-0 and no kid is guaranteed a win over a kid with a (lesser) record.”
Lesser or greater, much talent stands between the Bobcats and the 2019 CHSAA State Championships to be held Feb. 21-23 in Denver, with only the top four per weight surviving the loaded 2A Region 1 tournament held at the Montrose Event Center.
Ranked No. 6 at heavyweight in Class 2A, Ignacio’s Randy Herrera might see at least one or two wrestlers billed ahead of him, with Paonia’s No. 3 Levi Peterson, Cedaredge’s No. 4 Derek Sanchez and Hotchkiss’ No. 5 Christian Matus all likely to be in contention, with No. 7 Michael Johnson of Ault-based Highland also in the mix.
Eighth at 160 pounds, senior Dustin Sanchez could see Paonia’s top-ranked Grey Neal and/or Norwood’s No. 5 Austin Overholt, while junior Cesar Pedregon, eighth at 182, may clash with any number of standouts, including Nucla’s No. 3 Will Gabriel, Hayden’s No. 4 Hunter Planansky, Oak Creek-based Soroco’s No. 9 Jesse Amrein or Meeker’s No. 10 Kesston Hobbs.
Top 20 himself at 138, senior Skieler Grooms (No. 16) will have Paonia’s No. 2 Sackett Chesnik, Hayden’s No. 5 Traycer Hall, Highland’s No. 6 Lucas Hefner, Nucla’s No. 7 Tad Sickels and Rangely’s No. 8 Tytus Coombs with whom to contend.
“At this point, we’re going to be drilling the same stuff we’ve been drilling, and that’s working the moves that the boys have chosen themselves,” Ignacio head coach Jordan Larsen said following IHS’ Butch Melton Memorial Invitational at which Sanchez prevailed, Grooms placed second, Herrera fourth and Pedregon fifth.
“Some people run kind of a two-move or a one-move program where they make it their signature. We kind of do something a little different; we give them a lot of options and then they choose, essentially, what they’re going to work on. So, we’ve been working their favorite moves, their go-to moves, and that’s what we’re going to continue to drill, continue to condition and continue to improve.”
Though Grooms was second at the Melton, it gave him confidence going into regionals.
“I wasn’t able to take first, but it means, hopefully, I’ll have a good chance of making it to state,” said Grooms, who qualified along with Sanchez for state a year ago. “Then, once I make it, I’ve got to work for that podium. Keep my mind focused; just do me.”
Sanchez’s postseason plan contained even less wiggle room.
“Just what I did today: Dominate, in every aspect,” he stated after his Melton win. “Wrestle all three periods and dominate everyone on the mat, whatever they want.”
Sixth place at the Melton, senior Hunter Robbins will enter regionals unranked at 126 pounds but could be a sleeper in a field expected to include Hotchkiss’ third-ranked Presley Pene, Highland’s No. 5 Zach Tittle, Cedaredge’s No. 12 Adrian Nieto and Norwood’s No. 16 Harley Workman.
“Too many kids lose that first match because they overlook their first opponent,” cautioned Yount.
Meeker’s top-ranked Tannen Kennedy will anchor the 145-pound division, through which unranked Bobcat freshman Tyler Barnes will also attempt to battle. Joining him will be Highland’s No. 4 Hector Flores, Paonia’s No. 9 Zeb Etter, Rangely’s No. 11 Zane Varner, Hotchkiss’ No. 12 J.D. Miller and Soroco’s No. 15 Kody Logan.
Soroco’s second-ranked Jace Logan will command attention at 170 along with IHS junior Clay Campbell, Cedaredge’s No. 5 Toby Waddell, Meeker’s No. 7 Colby Clatterbaugh and Hotchkiss’ No. 8 Jace Peebles.
Including Paonia’s top-ranked Anthony Felice, the 195-pound bracket could include not only unranked IHS freshman Jeremy Roderick but as many as three more top-12 grapplers.
If able to go at 132, freshman Shawn Campbell could represent IHS in a division featuring top-ranked Sean Dale of Cedaredge and Highlands’ No. 8 Dante Chirichango, while freshman 113-pounder Isaac Welker could do so against the likes of Hotchkiss’ No. 5 Landen Mayberry and Hayden’s No. 7 Dylan Zimmerman.
Provided Tuesday, Feb. 12, by Dove Creek athletic director Shane Baughman, Ignacio’s results at the aforementioned, but slimmed-down SJBLs (only 31 competitors represented six programs) were definitely not what Larsen and his staff would have liked to see so late in the season, as not one ’Cat claimed victory, save Herrera by forfeit.
But, after some of their men took a match wherever possible – Welker wrestled up at 120, Barnes at 152 – and others just came up short (Workman defeated Robbins 6-2, Sickels pinned Grooms, Overholt pinned Sanchez, Gabriel pinned Pedregon) but if there ever was a time to reset and refocus, it’s now.