Heading into the 15-team Rocky Mountain Invitational wrestling tournament Jan. 11, grapplers from Montezuma-Cortez, Mancos and Dolores high schools knew they needed to be at their best.
Although no Panthers, Bears or Bluejays won individual titles at the tournament, which was dominated by team-champion Pagosa Springs High School and second-place Aztec High School, individuals from all three schools gained valuable experience.
After showing signs of rust in their first post-Christmas action against Monte Vista earlier in the week, Montezuma-Cortez wrestlers got back to business against several tough opponents Saturday.
Leading the way for the Panthers was 126-pound junior Austin Featherman, who opened the tournament by pinning Centauri’s Cyrus Sandoval and Bloomfield’s Ayden Reinhart before losing in the finals by technical fall to Pagosa Springs wrestler Erik Wyman.
Also registering multiple victories was Anthony Abeyta, who won four of his five matches and finished fifth overall at 145 pounds. Abeyta’s lone loss came to Pagosa Springs’ Brae Bergdolt in the quarterfinals.
Other top performers for M-CHS included senior Ethan Root, who won three of his five matches and finished seventh at 152 pounds, and senior Casen Allmon, who won two of his five matches and placed eighth at 160 pounds.
Jayven Valdez amassed a 1-2 record in the 113-pound division, Jaquin Laner finished 1-3 at 132 pounds, Ryan Pipkin finished 0-2 at 120 pounds, Caden Cote finished 0-2 at 138 pounds, and Devan Frost finished 0-2 at 220 pounds.
M-CHS placed eleventh overall in the team standings, which included squads from Colorado and New Mexico.
Competing against several powerful opponents in the tough 160-pound division, Mancos sophomore Chase Moore earned pin victories over Centauri’s Zach Buhr and Monte Vista’s Levi Trujillo, suffering his only loss at the hands of Bayfield’s Kobe Prior.
Joining Moore with top-five finishes were Colt Fury, who won one of his three matches and placed fourth at 152 pounds; Ty Everett, who won one of three matches and placed fourth at 138 pounds; and Lane Greenlee, who won one of his three matches and placed fourth at 132 pounds.
Ayden Matthews finished 1-2 overall at 126 pounds, Breccen Morelli finished 3-2 overall at 145 pounds, and Jake Lewis, Trevor Pacquin, Andrew Ruatti and William Small all finished 0-2 in the tournament.
Mancos placed 10th overall in the team standings.
Continuing to show growth in a difficult season, the Dolores wrestling team struggled to score points.
Among those who picked up wins for the Bears were Bryan Escarcega, who finished 1-2 at 220 pounds; Joe Summers, who finished 1-2 at 285 pounds; and Gavin Baker, who finished 1-3 at 170 pounds.
Akima Edwards finished 0-2 in the 113-pound division, Levi fuller finished 0-2 in the 145-pound division, and Caleb Montoya finished 0-2 in the 145-pound division.
Dolores finished 14th overall in the 15-team tournament.