The Durango High School wrestling team needs Christmas break more than most teams in the area, but not because of a losing streak or a boost of team morale. Rather, it’s because of injuries and illness.
That was evident Thursday night when the Demons went down to New Mexico and were taken down by Kirtland Central, 60-18, and then lost to the Piedra Vista junior varsity team, 34-30, at the Farmington Duals. The Demons had seven wrestlers compete but had almost as many out with illness or injuries.
“I thought we wrestled very well, despite what the outcomes were,” said DHS head coach Leo Garand. “Austin (Albrecht) went 3-0, Tyler Woodworth went 2-1, and we had a few others who did well. We were aggressive on the mat, but I do think we’re in need of the Christmas break. It seems like everybody is sick.”
In the lone varsity match against Kirtland, Paul Smagacz pinned Josiah Dennis in four minutes, 33 seconds at the 138-pound weight class. Durango’s two other wins came from Woodworth, at 152, who pinned his opponent in 52 seconds, while Albrecht (182) pinned Byron Gibbs in just 44 seconds.
Following Friday afternoon’s practice, Garand said the wrestling room “almost sounded like a tuberculosis ward” because so many of his wrestlers were under the weather.
“It’s that time of year, but we have to get healthy before our big stretch in January,” Garand said. “January really is crunch time and it’s an absolute grind. We’ve got some major tournaments coming up and we’ll have some key guys who will be getting back from nagging injuries. Everybody has battled really hard despite being sick, and we’ve gotten through it as a team. We just have to stay healthy and I think we can have a great second half of the season.”
The Demons will have two weeks off before hosting the La Plata County Championships against Bayfield and Ignacio at 12 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 5, at Durango High School.
Ignacio 37, Mancos 12The other area wrestling match from Thursday night saw Ignacio pull away from Mancos at Ignacio High School. The Bobcats grinded out the win as they had two major decision victories and plenty of forfeit wins. Mancos did not have wrestlers at five weight classes and forfeited four of them.
IHS head coach Jordan Larsen thought his team needed the Christmas break, as well.
“I’d say the boys wrestled well,” Larsen said. “I would say that our focus maybe isn’t where it was a week ago, but that’s to be expected right before break. But other than that, I thought it was a good performance tonight overall.”
At 126 pounds, Hunter Robbins had a takedown in the first overtimed period as he scored the win over Ty Everett, 2-0. Tyler Barnes (145) pinned Andrew Ruatti in 1:10, which gave the Bobcats a 15-6 early lead. Dustin Sanchez defeated Colt Fury at 160 pounds and won in a major decision, 13-3.
Clay Campbell (182) and Cesar Pedragon (195) each won by forfeit, which gave IHS a commanding 31-6 lead.
Larsen said that while he was hoping for more out of his senior captain Dustin Sanchez, he said he will learn from the slow start.
“He just came out slow, wasn’t ready to wrestle – and he was the first to admit that,” Larsen said. “And as far as I’m concerned, being able to admit that as a wrestler – he’s a senior and a captain, he’ll learn from it and come back strong later. But he got the job done, which is as much as anyone can ask for.”
Ignacio’s next match will also come at the La Plata County Championships against Bayfield and Durango at 12 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 5, at Durango High School.