Josh Stephenson/Durango Herald
BAYFIELD – Bayfield High School head coach Todd McMenimen and the Wolverines got a close look at the No. 1-ranked wrestling team in Class 3A on Friday.
And coach McMenimen liked what he saw.
After all, what’s not to like about the deep and experienced defending state champions from Centauri, a fellow member of the Intermountain League.
But McMenimen was much happier with what he saw from his upstart Wolverines, who wrestled five matches away from the powerhouse Falcons during a rescheduled midafternoon matinee match at BHS.
“I was very, very pleased with the effort we came out with,” McMenimen said after the Wolverines won five of the 10 contested matches but lost the IML dual to top-ranked Centauri 45-18.
The Falcons, who also won five matches, picked up 18 points from three Bayfield forfeits.
“We had to go through some really tough kids. But even in the matches we lost, we wrestled well,” said McMenimen, who acknowledged Thursday night’s loss to No. 3 Alamosa helped prepare the Wolverines for a strong showing against the Falcons.
“The way we wrestled (Friday) is exactly what we wanted to see going into regionals next week,” he said.
The coach’s son, Colter McMenimen, started the early BHS momentum with a dramatic 7-6 decision over Ethan “Tater” Combs of Centauri in their 126-pound match. Teammates Allec Rodriguez and Drake Rhodes followed suit with two more tense, crowd-pleasing Bayfield decisions – 5-3 and 4-3.
Heavyweight Matt Eckstein recorded the Wolverines’ only pin of the match, finishing Greg Martinez of Centauri early in the second period.
But the most stunning victory for BHS came at 220 pounds when Matt Cerdas scored two points on a reversal with 1 second left in his match, beating RJ Ruybal of Centauri 4-3.
“I knew I needed two points to win,” said Cerdas, who trailed 3-2 with the clock winding down.
“I’ve worked that side roll the last three years. Coach (Herb) Stinson taught me that my sophomore year,” he said of Bayfield’s former head coach, who retired this year after 12 at BHS.
“That’s been my go-to move,” he said.
“Cerdas ... waited a little longer than I would have liked,” McMenimen said.
“We know what move he’s going to go to. He tried it in the second period, and he got the escape point. Then, he wore him down and got the side roll at the end.”
“We wrestled a lot better than (Thursday against Alamosa),” Cerdas said of the Wolverines.
“We didn’t wrestle with intensity (Thursday). A few of us did. But (Friday), I felt like as a team, we wrestled tougher,” said Cerdas, son of Katherine Cray.
Colter McMenimen agreed.
“I think we went out and wrestled with all we had,” said McMenimen, who needed an escape with 27 seconds left to edge Combs 7-6 in their 126-pound match.
“We knew they were tough. I knew I would have a tough match,” said McMenimen, son of Missy and Todd McMenimen. He also said he knew he couldn’t make a mistake against Combs, ranked third in 3A at 126 pounds by coloradopreps.com.
“A good wrestler like that will take advantage (of any mistake),” he said.
Rodriguez had to wrestle under similar pressure in his low-scoring bout against Christopher Allen of Centauri at 132 pounds.
With a 2-1 lead, Rodriguez controlled Allen from the top position for the entire 2 minutes of the second period. He used a key takedown in the final period to preserve the 5-3 victory.
Rhodes had an even closer match against Shane Wilson of Centauri at 138 pounds. Tied 2-2 going into the third period, Rhodes scored two near fall points on a tilt to beat Wilson 4-3.
In other matches Friday:
Angelo Martinez of Centauri beat Tyler Beebe of BHS 14-5 at 120 pounds.
Jason Buhr of Centauri, ranked No. 1 in the state at 145 pounds, scored a 15-9 decision over Joe Zink.
Jensen Hamilton pinned James Young of BHS (170) in the third.
Jarid Aziz of Centauri, the No. 2-ranked 182-pounder in 3A, pinned Michael Goodman in the second period.
Tyler Pavlovsky of the Falcons pinned crowd favorite Dom Brittain of Bayfield in 51 seconds (195).
Centauri picked up forfeit victories from the Wolverines at 106, 152 and 160 pounds; neither team fielded a 113-pounder.
“This is as good a tune-up as I could ask for heading to regionals,” coach McMenimen said.
“That’s the top team in the state. Several of our guys knocked off guys who were ranked ahead of them. That will be huge for regional seeding and huge for confidence,” he said.
Eckstein, his coach said, likely will be seeded No. 1 for the 3A regional tournament next weekend at Monte Vista High School.
“I think we’re going in the right direction,” McMenimen said. “I’m tickled.”