The three high school wrestling teams from La Plata County got together Thursday night in Ignacio. It wasn’t for the customary Butch Melton Invitational regularly hosted by the Bobcats in February, but it was the next best thing during a bizarre season shortened and altered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The best dual of the night came from Bayfield and Durango. The teams tied 39-39 on the scoreboard, though Durango was credited with the victory for giving forfeits at only two weight classes compared to four from the Wolverines. But both head coaches came away happy with the way their teams wrestled against each other.
“We may have lost on criteria, but we looked really good,” BHS head coach Todd McMenimen said. “We had a couple of big wins in there, and Deegan Barnes looked fantastic, the best he has looked all season. We were happy with that.”
DHS head coach Robert Finneseth said his team came out strong to wrestle well against Montezuma-Cortez and Ignacio but felt his team may have been a bit flat against Bayfield. But perhaps the team’s biggest win this week came in the classroom.
“There were times we wrestled really well and times we were flat,” Finneseth said. “It just came down to that. The first couple of duals, we did a lot of good things. But between grades and quarantines, it’s been a bit of frustration for us recently. This last week, we concentrated more on grades than wrestling, but it needed to be done.”
Hunter Anderson scored a win over Durango’s Riley Belt to give Bayfield an early 6-0 lead. Anderson was able to secure a pin at 1:14 into the first period. At 145 pounds, Dylan Pickering continued his strong season with a pin of Durango’s Payson Albrecht with seven seconds to go in the second period.
Then, Barnes picked up his big 12-6 decision win against Durango’s Ben Belt at 152 pounds in the best match of the entire night.
“It was by far the best Deegan has looked all year. He ended up winning the decision, but we felt he really dominated the match much more than a six-point win,” McMenimen said. “He looked good and really had us going.”
After Barnes walked off the mat, Bayfield held a 27-0 lead. But Tyler Woodworth would get DHS on the board with a 4-0 decision win against Kobe Prior at 160 pounds in another tightly-contested match.
“We wrestled solid against a real good kid there,” McMenimen said. “A couple things didn’t go our way, but Woodworth is real strong.”
DHS would then pick up 24 consecutive points on forfeits to tie the match before heavyweights Jordan Sands and Brett Franklin would clash. Sands has been a bright spot for BHS all season as a developing heavyweight, and McMenimen was thrilled to see him use a new move to secure a takedown and pin Franklin 1:10 into the second period.
“Sands came out and put on a little show,” McMenimen said. “We’ve been working on a couple moves specifically for him, and he came out with one of them and got a takedown right to the kid’s back to get us back on top there.”
Keaton Pickering would make it a 39-27 lead for Bayfield with a pin 15 seconds into the second period of Durango’s Dillon Harris at 106 pounds. But Durango would win the final two matches, as Jacob Fenberg pinned Avery Mitzlaff with 19 seconds to go in the second period at 113 pounds and Kealan Clifton pinned Jonathan Chapman at 120 pounds in only 31 seconds. That led to the tie on the scoreboard.
Here’s a look at the other duals Thursday night in Ignacio:
Durango 42, Montezuma-Cortez/Dolores 33Four matches were contested between the Demons and Panthers. All but one ended with a pin.
Kael Buffington of M-CHS was able to pin Harris at 106 in 34 seconds. Ryan Pipkin of M-CHS then beat Clifton with a third-period pin at 126 pounds, and Jayven Valdez secured a 6-0 decision win against Riley Belt at 132.
Durango’s win came at 145 pounds, as Payson Albrecht pinned Wes Atcitty 31 seconds into the second period.
At 195 pounds, Durango’s Storm was able to beat Dolores’ Gabe Alred with a pin in 37 seconds. Dolores heavyweight Joe Summer also was able to pin Durango’s Franklin 1:15 into the first period.
Durango 66, Ignacio 6Ignacio’s Jeremy Roderick scored a big win for the home Bobcats in the heavyweight division against Durango.
Roderick was able to pin Franklin 28 seconds into the second period to get the Bobcats’ lone win against the Demons.
For DHS, Harris pinned Cayle McCoy 28 seconds into the first period at 106. Fenberg then pinned Devante Montoya 34 seconds into the second period at 113.
Albrecht was able to work past Keaton McCoy with a pin at 145 pounds late in the third period. Ben Belt then pinned John Riepel at 152 to keep the Demons rolling.
Durango’s Nathaniel Pinto scored a win at 160 with a pin of Kaleb Welker at the 1:12 mark of the first period. Durango’s Miguel Stubbs also pinned Ignacio’s Kyle Rima 35 seconds into the second period at 220 pounds.
Bayfield 42, Ignacio 16The Wolverines and Bobcats didn’t match up at many weights Thursday. Six matches were contested out of a possible 14.
Keaton McCoy of Ignacio scored a major decision win of 13-1 against Morgen Hastings of Bayfield at 138 pounds. Barnes responded for Bayfield by securing a pin 59 seconds into the second period against Riepel at 152.
Prior would pin Ignacio’s Welker at 1:19 into the first period at 170.
Ignacio’s Kyle Rima pinned Bayfield’s Sands at heavyweight 54 seconds into their match. At 106, Keaton Pickering earned a pine of Cayle McCoy 1:22 into the first period. Devanta Montoya of Ignacio answered back with a pin of his own against Bayfield’s Mitzlaff at the 1:09 mark of the first period at 113 pounds.
HHHTeams will be back in action Friday. Durango is headed to Palisade for a tri-meet with the host and Paonia. Bayfield will travel to Pagosa Springs where it will also see Rifle, while Ignacio is slated for a dual-meet at Centauri.