IGNACIO – The Bayfield High School wrestling team has plenty of momentum heading into next weekend’s regional meet after the Wolverines had a strong final regular-season tournament of the year at the Butch Melton Memorial Invitational in Ignacio on Saturday.
The Wolverines placed in fifth as a team with 77 points, and had two winners on the day. Cedaredge won the tournament with 182 points, Farmington took second with 179.5, Aztec was third with 162.5 and Pagosa Springs finished in fourth with 148.5. The host Bobcats finished in 13th out of 16 teams with 18.5 points.
“It helps us out a lot with our momentum heading into regionals,” said Cedaredge coach Cutter Garrison. “It was kind of a rough morning, we regrouped and told them that they had to pick it up from there. They did and rallied behind each other pretty well on the backdoor. They understand that backdoor points count for a lot, and it’s not always about the champs, the sixth-place guys helped us win today.”
For Bayfield, Dylan Pickering technical fall’d his way to the championship match at 138-pound weight class, as he breezed his way into the final. In the final, Pickering scored an 8-6 decision over Garett Birzer of Aztec to improve to 29-7 on the year.
“I was looking forward to seeing Dylan Tressler of Pagosa Springs, but he was sick so I couldn’t get the rematch,” Pickering said. “The championship match was super close and it was right there. It came to the very end and I fought as hard as I could to hold on. My mentality heading into the third period was to have no fear, and I just wanted to wrestle well.”
The other winner came from John Foutz at 220 pounds, who also cruised into his championship match, as he pinned three other wrestlers. In his match, he scored an 8-0 major decision win over Caleb Varzeas of Aztec to improve to 33-3.
“The first two matches, I pinned a kid in eight seconds and another kid from Farmington in 18 seconds,” Foutz said. “Skyler Hill from Pagosa gave me a run for the money and I won on points, so then came finals. In the finals, you have to wrestle the way you wrestle and do what you do best. ... I’ve worked too hard to come in second, so I think that was the turning point for me.”
BHS also had four placers on the afternoon, as three wrestlers took sixth, while Paden Williamson took second at 195. At 120 pounds, Keyton Cugnini lost his fifth-place match to Locas Hoerr of Cedaredge, as he was pinned in 17 seconds. Deegan Barnes took sixth at 145, as he lost a 7-4 decision to Trey Brock of Piedra Vista. Kobe Prior also took sixth at 160, and had to forfeit his match.
In Williamson’s championship match, he led David Lopez of Cedaredge early 5-0 after the first period. In the second, Lopez, who outweighed Williamson by 14 pounds, as Lopez weighed in at 199 pounds, while Williamson was at 185. As a result, Lopez was able to overpower Williamson, and scored a pin 43 seconds into the second period.
“He was a lot stronger than me and he had some good moves, so credit to him,” Williamson said. “It is what it is, and at the end of the day, he was just a better wrestler. I still think I’m in good shape for regionals. I am going to keep working hard, and really want it, because I’ve never made state. I think I can get there, and this tournament was still big for my momentum.”
The Wolverines will have one more dual at Alamosa at 6 p.m. Thursday before the regional tournament on Feb. 14th in Montrose.
The Ignacio High School wrestling team might be small in numbers with seven wrestlers, but the Bobcats still know to execute. Three wrestlers reached the podium on Saturday, with the highest finish coming from Randy Herrera at 285 pounds, who took fourth.
Herrera almost took third, if it were not for Farmington’s Kioni Benally, who scored a pin as time expired in the third-place match. It was one of the toughest losses that Herrera suffered in his IHS career, but he believes it will only make him stronger.
“I had him on the ropes until the last 10 seconds,” Herrera said. “I was wrestling pretty hard throughout the whole day. In my final match, there were 10 seconds left and I took a bad shot and he got me in a headlock. I couldn’t get out of it. I don’t normally get mad after my matches, but it was kind of irritating losing in front of the home crowd, and knowing I could have won it. I think I can learn from this, and especially as it’s near the end of the season, I want to end strong.”
IHS’ other placers included Tyler Barnes at 152, as he also scored a last-second pin over Joey Hoerr of Cedaredge to claim fifth. Keaton McCoy took fifth at 126, but was unable to advance out of his pool play.
“We’re just still setting our goal on regionals,” said IHS head coach Jordan Larsen. “We’re trying to get as many guys to punch tickets, and I thought we wrestled well. Randy had a tough finish, but he’ll learn from it, and Tyler Barnes and Keaton McCoy also wrestled well. These next two weeks are what we’ve been building for, so I think the boys will be ready.”
The Bobcats will host the Class 2A/1A San Juan Basin League championships at 6 p.m. Thursday.