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Bluejays wrestling seeks to stay atop region

Cole Dainty-Guilfoyle of Mancos High School is acknowledged as the winner against Caeden Bauer of Wray at Ball Arena in Denver on Feb. 18. (Joel Priest/Special to The Journal)
Mancos took third in state a year ago, hopes for league repeat

MANCOS – Coming off an incredible past 12 months for Mancos athletics, the wrestling program enters the winter months with high aspirations that they will factor into the state title picture yet again.

Hot off a third-place finish in the 2023 edition of the 2A state championships this past February, second-year head coach Ty Penning and the Bluejays bring back a wealth of talent with visions of plenty of podium-topping performances.

Not many programs in the state have a returning state champion on their roster – the Bluejays have two.

Senior Cole Dainty-Guilfoyle captured his first state title in the 175-pound division dominating his way through the regular season, then through the 2A state tournament bracket. After proving to be equally menacing as a defensive lineman on Mancos’ state title football team, Dainty-Guilfoyle moves up to the 190-pound classification in search of a back-to-back title.

Classmate Levi Martin, whose football season was cut short because of a leg injury, brings back plenty of leadership and championship pedigree, having won a state title himself three seasons ago. Martin and his teammates hope that he will be able to heal in time to be able to jump back into the ring for one more run at a title.

Seniors Elliott Sam and Dillon Eichner both have made appearances in the state championships, headlined by Sam’s third-place finish last year. Junior Brandon Vannest matched Sam’s podium spot from a year ago, while sophomores Jacob Martin and Colten Vannest both saw the Ball Arena mat in their freshman seasons.

All told, with a mix of newcomers, the Bluejays pose a serious threat to make noise in this year’s championships. The On the Mat rankings generated by Tim Yount have the Bluejays posted as the third-ranked team in the state, which matches their team finish from a year ago.

In their first action of the season, just days after capping the football season, the Jays earned some strong finishes at Grand County, Utah, led by first-place efforts from Dainty-Guilfoyle, Brandon Vannest at 157 pounds and Jacob Martin at 165 pounds.

Sam, a heavyweight, and Eichner, 113 pounds, added third-place performances. Colten Vannest was fourth at 215 pounds, and Quinton Martinez was fifth at 138 pounds as the Bluejays scored a fifth-place team finish.

“We had a really solid weekend,” said Penning of his team’s start, particularly given the quick turnover from football to wrestling. “It’s going to be an exciting season – we’re going to pick up right where we left off and keep that momentum going.”

Mancos heads to Montrose Dec. 8-9 before winding down the 2023 calendar with a trip to Fort Defiance, Arizona, on Dec. 15-16. The New Year begins with action in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, Jan. 5-6 with the state championships running over the weekend of Feb. 15-17 in Denver.