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Belt wins title to lead Demons at Sand Devil Classic

DHS places sixth out of 24 teams
Ben Belt of Durango High School battles Kobe Prior of Bayfield High School earlier this season. On Saturday, Belt scored a title at the Sand Devil Classic tournament in Arizona. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Six Durango Demon wrestlers reached the podium at the Sand Devil Classic in Page, Arizona, over the weekend, helping Durango High School finish sixth out of 24 teams from the Four Corners.

Ben Belt, wrestling at 175 pounds instead of 170 because Arizona’s weight classes are slightly different, scored an individual title for DHS. Belt pinned his first opponent in 1 minute, 3 seconds. His next three matches, however, went all six minutes. In the quarters, Belt won 5-1 against Connor Straessler of Desert Vista (AZ). He then won 7-5 in the semis against Cash Carlisle of Dixie (UT).

In the championship, Belt took on Marcos Serna of Barry Goldwater. The bout was close, but Belt emerged 3-1.

Tyler Woodworth competed at 165, instead of 160, for the same reason as Belt, and ended up placing second. Woodworth pinned his first opponent and won by a 13-0 major decision in the quarterfinals. In the semis, he gave Nick Carroll of Higley (AZ) just his second loss in 42 matches this season, 6-4, in overtime. Woodworth faced Brennan Callison of Castell (AZ) in the finals, but got pinned in the second period.

Jacob Fenberg went 4-1 at 113 to score a third-place finish for DHS. Fenberg pinned two of his opponents and beat a third by a 9-2 decision en route to the third-place match where he faced Nathan Dax of Canyon View. Fenberg then scored another dominant win, 10-1.

At 132, Chris McGrath went 5-2 to finish fifth. McGrath won his first two matches by technical fall and fall, but got pinned in the quarterfinals by the eventual champion, Sergio Ramos of Casteel (AZ). McGrath came back and pinned his next foe and then won a tight, 5-4 decision against Hunter Merino of Tuba City (AZ) to get into the placing rounds. McGrath lost in the consolation semis, but came back and pinned Ryan Pipkin of Montezuma-Cortez in the fifth-place match.

Pipkin lost his first match, but won four consecutive after that to place, including two wins by fall, one by technical fall and one by a major decision.

Two Demons placed at 138 pounds, with Riley Belt taking fourth and Wyatt Bartel finishing sixth. Belt won his first two matches by pin and a 6-5 decision, but lost 8-4 in the quarters. He came back and pinned his next two opponents and then had to face his teammate. Belt won the Durango battle against Bartel, 12-2, but lost 9-1 in the third-place match to Lakoda Wiecrorek of Canyon View, 9-1.

Bartel, meanwhile, won his first two matches by pin and ended up finishing sixth.

Julius Arredondo won two matches at 157, but finished one win away from placing. Cully Feeney (132) and Dale Harris (150) both went 0-2.

In addition to Pipkin, David Vreeken also placed for Cortez, finishing sixth at 144. He lost his first match but pinned the next three wrestlers he faced to place at the tournament.

Airoughn VanGrandt won three matches at 138, but finished one win away from placing. Both of his losses were to Riley Belt.

Kaden Nielson went 1-2 at 165, while Heath Woodman went 0-2 at 138 for Cortez.

Dolores also sent two wrestlers to the tournament and both placed. Braden Schmittel pinned three opponents and finished sixth at 157. Ethen Robson also pinned two foes and won one match by no-contest on his way to a fourth-place finish at 190.

Ignacio was originally scheduled to compete in the tournament as well, but did not go.

In the team race, Casteel (AZ) scored 323.5 points to take the crown. Desert Vista (AZ) finished second with 258, followed by Canyon View (206.5), Dixie (UT) with 163, Higley (AZ) with 157 and Durango in sixth with 128.5. Cortez finished 16th with 39.5 points and Dolores finished 17th with 31.

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