When Durango High School wrestling coach Doug Cuddie scheduled a trip to Grand Junction for the powerhouse Maverick Duals to open the season, he knew the Demons would face a stern challenge.
“We knew it would be a learning experience,” Cuddie said Saturday afternoon. “I just didn’t know we’d have this much to learn.”
Cuddie said the Demons struggled as a team in the season-opening tournament at Colorado Mesa University.
“We just did not wrestle well at all,” Cuddie said after the Demons went 1-4 in a physical test of five duals in one day.
Durango lost to Southwestern League rivals Grand Junction, Grand Junction Central and Montrose. The Demons also lost to defending Class 2A state champion Paonia.
Durango’s lone dual victory at the Maverick Duals came over Cedaredge.
While official final scores were not available, Cuddie said the Demons were within six points of beating Grand Junction and Montrose in Saturday’s duals.
“But honestly, we should be farther ahead than this,” Cuddie said. “We’ve definitely got some work to do.”
Senior Clay Dillon and junior Nick Tarpley led the Durango wrestlers with perfect 5-0 records Saturday.
Dillon, wrestling at 126 pounds, was a state qualifier in 2011 for Durango.
Tarpley, at 152 pounds, was a Class 4A state qualifier last year.
Sophomore Matthew Lavengood, a state qualifier for the Demons last year as a freshman, went 4-1 in Saturday’s duals.
Daniel Gustavson (220) also went 4-1 in his return to the mat for DHS. He wrestled two years ago but sat out last season.
“He did an excellent job,” Cuddie said. “After not wrestling last year, he wrestled well. He ... finished with a pin.
“Those are the highlights for us,” Cuddie said. “The rest of the guys went ... 2-3 or 1-4. We’ve got to have more than that.”
Other Demons who wrestled Saturday included Dillon Anthony, Demetre Cullison, Patrick Cunnion, Jack Madden, Lucas Sinnig, Garrett Marcum and Morgan Walts.
Cuddie said the Demons will hit the practice room and prepare for their home-opening dual at 7 p.m. Thursday against Bloomfield, N.M.
The youthful Ignacio Bobcats also opened the season Saturday at the Maverick Duals.
“We are young ... really, really young,” Ignacio head coach Bob Overturf said.
While his 2012-13 team has strong numbers, Overturf said it’s his most inexperienced team in five seasons.
“Some of these guys haven’t seen the mat (in competition),” Overturf said.
“We took a beating (Saturday), but this team is young ... we can improve,” he said.
The Bobcats lost all five duals Saturday, falling to Coal Ridge, Cedaredge, Rangely, Moffat County (Craig) and Olathe – all programs well represented at recent state tournaments.
Christian Knoll of the Bobcats, a junior returning with experience, won three matches Saturday.
“He battled (at the end) and pulled it out,” Overturf said of Knoll’s final match.
Javan Webb, Ignacio’s 220-pounder, finished his tournament with a pin, Overturf said.
“He did a good job,” Overturf said.
Blane Mickey, another returning wrestler, also picked up a pair of wins Saturday for the Bobcats.
“All of the kids have a lot of promise,” Overturf said.
The Bobcats will wrestle at the Dove Creek Tournament next Saturday.