After battling each other on Friday, the Durango, Bayfield and Ignacio high school wrestling teams all competed Saturday in Pagosa Springs’ Rocky Mountain Wrestling Tournament.
Seven of nine Bayfield wrestlers placed at the tournament, including three wrestlers win titles: Keaton Pickering at 113 pounds, James Mars at 132 and Kobe Prior at 170.
“We wrestled really well,” said BHS head coach Todd McMenimen. “I was really pleased how everyone stepped on the mat from the beginning to the end of the day.”
Eight Durango wrestlers placed, led by Tyler Woodworth’s individual title at 160 pounds.
Heavyweight Jeremy Roderick, meanwhile, led Ignacio’s contingent with a third-place finish.
The 170-pound championship match was a rematch from Friday, featuring Prior and Durango’s Ben Belt. Belt won Friday’s match, getting a late takedown and near fall to pull away from Prior.
Saturday, however, Prior made some adjustments and scored a 5-4 win over Belt.
“We talked to him about a couple things he needed to do, and he did exactly what we talked about,” McMenimen said. “That was the difference in the match.”
One change Prior made, the coach said, was moving more laterally on the mat to help prevent Belt from setting up his offense.
In Saturday’s final, Prior took Belt down twice in the first period to build a 4-1 lead. Belt later escaped and took Prior down, but Prior also escaped once to help him score the win.
“Ben almost had a takedown at the end, but ran out of time,” McMenimen said. “It was a good, tight match, which is the way a finals match should be. It didn’t disappoint by any means.”
Prior also pinned Center’s Martin Palma and won by a 14-3 major decision over Cole Dainty-Guifoyle of Mancos to reach the finals. Belt’s finals route included a pin over David Morehouse of Pagosa Springs and a 5-4 decision over Zakk Thomas of Kirtland.
After competing at 120 pounds for the first part of the season, Pickering dropped down to 113. “Being down at 113s, he looks stronger,” McMenimen said.
Pickering’s toughest match came in the semifinals where squared off with defending 2A state champion Riley Valdez of Centauri. Pickering, however, used a bulldog to take Valdez down to his back and build an early 5-0 lead. Pickering kept the pressure on and ended up winning the match, 14-7. “He came out and dominated the match with him,” McMenimen said. “(Valdez) couldn’t slow him down.”
Pickering then pinned Hunter Samora of Bloomfield in the finals. “It was a good display for Keaton on his first matches at 113,” McMenimen said.
James Mars also dropped down a weight, from 138 to 132, and won his biggest high school tournament yet.
“At 32s, he’s wrestling in the right weight,” McMenimen said. “He’s feeling strong and wrestling smart.”
Mars pinned Durango’s Chris McGrath and Pagosa’s Griffin Bower to reach the finals against Elias Johnson of Bloomfield. Mars dominated Johnson from the top position to take a six-point lead into the third period. To start the third, however, Johnson chose to start from the bottom position because he had struggled underneath at the Warrior Classic.
“He’s putting himself in different positions that he knows he needs to be able to work out of,“ McMenimen said.
Johnson was able to score a few points from top, but Mars held on to win the championship match 10-8.
Deegan Barnes also reached the finals at 152 pounds for Bayfield but finished second to Centauri’s Eyan Chavez.
“Deegan had a great day,” McMenimen said. “Eyan is a stud. He’s physical and wrestles at a high tempo, so you have to be ready to match his intensity.”
Hunter Mars, meanwhile, finished sixth at 106, Jordan Cundiff finished fourth at 285, Donovan Candelaria placed eighth at 160, and Avery Mitzlaff went 1-2 at 126. Logan Valencia, who bumped up to 120 with Pickering dropping down, went 0-2, for Bayfield.
Eight wrestlers from Durango also placed in Pagosa, led by Woodworth’s championship at 160 pounds.
Woodworth pinned Tavon Black of Monticello, then beat Diego Snell-Martinez of Bloomfield 8-1 in the semis. In the finals, Woodworth scored an 11-4 win over Ayden Mathews of Mancos.
Ryan Dugan also reached the 106-pound championship for Durango, pinning Michael Thomas of Pagosa Springs and Joseph Harris of Monticello. In the finals, Jordan Duran of Center squeaked out a 12-11 victory over Dugan.
Izik Garrett (sixth, 113), Cole Pontine (seventh, 120), Chris McGrath (fifth, 132), James Storm (fourth, 182), Vicente Draper (seventh, 285) and Belt also placed for Durango. Dale Harris went 1-2 at 152.
Roderick started the tournament by pinning Camren Carpenter of Monticello, but lost in the semis against Lucas Fillis of Taos. In the third-place match, however, Roderick finished strong by pinning Jordan Cundiff of Bayfield in 1:23.
Keaton McCoy placed seventh at 145 for the Bobcats, ending the tournament with a pin against Cameron Bailey of Monticello.
Cayle McCoy (106), Asher Gallegos (132) and John Nossaman (152) also competed for Ignacio but went 0-2.
Centauri scored 186 points to win the team title. Bloomfield (183) was second and was followed by Pagosa Springs (145.5), Mancos (142.5), Center (130.5), Monticello (127.5), Bayfield (126.5.) Durango (118), Monte Vista (100), Kirtland (86), Taos (58), Del Norte (28), Dolores (26) Ignacio (19) and Montezuma-Cortez (18).
Ten Mancos wrestlers placed, including Dillon Eichner (third, 106), Isaiah Martinez (fourth, 113), Quinton Martinez (eighth, 120), Trevor Paquin (sixth, 120), Levi Martin (second, 126), Brandon Vannest (sixth, 132), Ethan Ostberg (seventh, 138), Mathews (second, 160), Dainty-Guifoyle (fourth, 170) and Lane Greenlee (third, 182).
Ryan Pipkin finished seventh at 132 to lead Cortez while Airoughn Vangrandt also reached the podium at 138 in eighth.
Dolores took three wrestlers, and all three placed sixth or higher. Gabriel Allred finished fifth at 182, Ethen Robson placed fifth at 195, and Gavin Baker placed sixth at 195.
Durango will host a quad on Friday against Mancos, Kirtland and Monticello. Duals are set to begin at 2 p.m. “There will be a lot of good wrestling,” said DHS head coach Robert Finniseth.
Ignacio will compete Saturday at the Norwood Invite.
Bayfield, meanwhile, will battle most of the state’s top Class 3A teams in Florence.
“For 3A, it’s basically a prelude for the state tournament,” McMenimen said. “Like the Warrior, if you can get on the podium (in Florence), there’s a good chance you can get on the podium in Denver (at the state championships) as well.”