After a two-week break for the holidays, it can be tough for high school wrestlers to return to form in their first matches back on the mat. On Saturday at the Riverside Rumble, formerly known as the La Plata County Duals, it was a chance for wrestlers to get back into the swing of competition before a month-long journey to the Colorado High School Activities Association state tournament at the Pepsi Center.
Bayfield hosted the event with visitors Durango and Ignacio. It was the traveling Durango Demons that came out on top with two dual wins over a six-man Ignacio Bobcat squad and a nine-man BHS team.
In the final dual of the day, it came down to Durango and Bayfield after both teams beat Ignacio in the opening matches. Durango beat Bayfield 44-27, and while it did not come down to the wire as last year’s 39-35 decision that went to Bayfield, there were a number of close decisions for both teams.
“There are different things going through your mind as a coach, and we still have a lot of work to do,” said DHS head coach Robert Finneseth. “Was I happy across the board? No. We had good matches, and it was an average performance. It was enough to come away with a tournament title, but we’re still so young, and there’s a lot to do moving forward.”
Durango picked up four forfeit wins over the Wolverines to earn 24 points, and the Demons recorded two wins by pins for another 12. Hunter Wills pinned Cade Kruger at 106 pounds, while Chris McGrath pinned Shayden French at 120. Ben Belt picked up a win over Kobe Prior in a 10-4 decision. At 113 pounds, Beau Brunson earned a technical fall win against Avery Mitzlaff.
BHS also had strong performances in the dual with Durango, as Hunter Anderson pinned Chase Mendenwaldt at 126 pounds, Xander Hovenstine pinned Dale Harris at 142 and Dylan Pickering scored a second-period pin over Payson Albrecht.
“All in all, I thought we wrestled OK, but we definitely lacked conditioning,” said BHS head coach Todd McMenimen. “We had four guys on vacation, and if they were there, it would’ve made quite an ending, but I still thought we wrestled hard. We saw some good things out of the kids, and hopefully next year we will be able to take the trophy back.”
In the opening dual between Ignacio and Bayfield, the Wolverines picked up a flurry of late points to claim a 38-16 win. BHS’ John Foutz moved up to 285 pounds and pinned IHS Randy Herrera in 2 minutes, 4 seconds for the win. He went undefeated on the afternoon after he picked up his second win against Durango in a forfeit.
Ignacio’s Keaton McCoy won in a 15-2 major decision over Anderson at 126, and Dante Sandman pinned Hovenstine at 132 in the third period for IHS’ final points. Bobcats head coach Jordan Larsen thought Sandman and McCoy were excellent and made smart decision on the mat to pick up well-earned points.
“It’s always hard to see where you stand when you come back after break,” Larsen said. “But I was happy with Keaton and Dante getting wins. Tyler Barnes fought hard against BHS but came up a bit short, but I still thought even though we had six guys, they all showed a lot of fight, and that’s super encouraging moving forward.”
In the second dual of the afternoon, Durango had eight forfeit victories to claim a 56-24 win over IHS. In the matches that were wrestled, Ignacio got the better of Durango and recorded three wins, while DHS had two. Roderick pinned Miguel Stubbs at 220, McCoy pinned Mendenwaldt at 126 for his second win of the day, as did Sandman who pinned Dale Harris at 132. DHS’ wins came from Albrecht, who scored a 16-4 tech fall over Isaac Welker, and Belt edged Tyler Barnes in a 7-4 decision.
Bayfield will see Pagosa Springs, ranked No. 4 in the latest Class 3A On the Mat team rankings from Tim Yount, twice this week. The Wolverines will host the Pirates for an Intermountain League dual at 6 p.m. Thursday at BHS. They will then travel to Pagosa for the Rocky Mountain Invitational on Saturday. Ignacio and Durango will also attend the Pagosa tournament.
There will be one more tournament in La Plata County this season, as Ignacio will host the Butch Melton Invitational on the first Saturday in February.
“I thought the crowds were really good again this year,” McMenimen said. “When we started talking about doing this years ago, we thought it was a great opportunity to get all three communities together to watch a day of wrestling. The atmosphere was great, and we only hope it will continue to grow as it becomes an annual event.”