Preparing most properly to host the 2023 Butch Melton Memorial Invitational on Saturday, Ignacio Wrestling traveled to the Sand Devil Classic on Friday and Saturday and competed against stout resistance in Page, Arizona.
After two days of action, IHS’ boys ended up finishing 18th overall, totaling 45 points and landing between Window Rock (57), Arizona and Phoenix’s Barry Goldwater (43) as 27 scoring schools – and 28 total – were represented at the event, held every year but two since its 1991 unveiling.
For Jordan Larsen’s Bobcats, freshman Zane Pontine led the way with his sixth-place result at 132 pounds.
Including one no-contest victory, he finished 5-3 at the meet after dropping a 13-2 major decision to Show Low senior Caleb Cisneros (an Arizona Interscholastic Association Div. III State Championships qualifier last season at 120) in the fifth-place match. Pontine’s other losses were courtesy PHS’ Tsinajinnie Green – a 12-8 decision in the winners’ second round, and a 5-0 decision in the consolation semifinals as Green went on to place fourth at the weight.
Competing at 144 pounds, senior Keaton McCoy won his first match by pinning Mohave Valley, Arizona, River Valley’s Connor Gerard in just 51 ticks, but McCoy then lost by pin to Mesa, Arizona, Skyline’s Ethan Harrington. Regrouping well, McCoy then scored a 16-0 technical fall and a 7-6 win against his first two consolation-round opponents before injury-defaulting to Camp Verde, Arizona’s Ari Hammond.
Freshman 138-pounder Lincoln deKay finished 4-2, including two pins and a tech, but was stopped short of placing via an 8-3 loss to Ryan Pipkin of Montezuma Cortez, who later earned fifth.
Eliminated via pin in 0:54 by Gilbert, Arizona, Higley’s Ryder Hockett, IHS sophomore Kendrick Nossaman finished 1-2 at 165. Asher Gallegos, also competing at 144, finished 2-2 (with two pins) after losing 6-4 to Wayne, Utah’s Ryker Grundy. Freshman Aven Bourriague went 1-2 at 106 pounds, notching a 10-1 major over Blanding, Utah, San Juan’s Grady Lacy, while young ’Cats Joshua Kerrigan (113) and Dillon Brann (120) each finished 0-2.
Desert Vista (Phoenix) – an AIA Class 6A school with an enrollment of roughly 3,000 students – piled up 310 points to beat two-time defending AIA Division II state champion, Queen Creek Casteel’s 205.5. Cedar City, Utah, Canyon View (187) placed third, followed by Page (160) and Show Low (135)..
Running concurrently during the weekend was PHS’ She Devil Classic, into which Ignacio skipper Aimee Larsen entered five ’Cats. Senior Faye Hackett suffered her first two losses this winter but still finished a fourth-place 2-2 at 132 pounds, helping IHS total 35 points and place 14th out of 27 represented (25 scoring) schools.
Canyon View (163) placed first, ahead of Casteel (146) and Page (126) while Durango placed 10th with 52.
After receiving a first-round bye, Hackett pinned St. George, Utah, Dixie’s Alexis Mora in 1:13 but was then pinned by Casteel’s Mia Johnson 42 ticks into the second period. Making amends, Hackett – who’d won 14 consecutive matches beginning the 2022-23 season – responded by pinning Goldwater’s Sade Peters 47 seconds into the third period. Hackett ultimately succumbed 8-6 to Winslow, Arizona, sophomore Tatum Estrada in the third-place bout.
IHS 120-pounder Audrey Roderick went 1-2 with a pin of Ganado, Arizona’s Johanna Attson, and Kacey Brown went 1-2 at 126 with a pin of GHS’ Naima Hubbard. Marlene Martinez-Perez finished 0-2 at 138, but Larissa Espinosa went 1-3 – pinning Page’s Kaydence Lee 1:14 into the second period – and placed sixth at 185 pounds.
Brooke Fenberg led DHS with a second-place finish at 114. Fenberg pinned her first two opponents and then won 11-3 in the semifinals, but lost by fall in the championship bout.
Hana Maletich went 4-2 to place third at 114. Amiah Hanson pinned two foes, but forfeited her final match to place sixth at 126. Samantha Collins went 2-2 to place fourth at 165 while Teresa Benac picked one pin for DHS at 120.