MANCOS – With the regional tournament just a couple weeks away, Mancos wants to ride the wave of momentum that their program has enjoyed this season all the way to a team title and a parade of blue-and-white heading to the 2A state championships in Pueblo.
With depth across all weight classifications, the Bluejays have made statement after statement against some of the region’s best teams, capping their most recent ventures with a sweep of duals against Montezuma-Cortez/Dolores, Nucla, and Ignacio on their home mat.
Mancos 45, M-CHS/Dolores 30Headlining the day’s action, a dual involving all three Montezuma County schools provided a number of entertaining matches between state tournament aspirants. Mancos collected a pair of pins and a victory by decision, along with a handful of forfeits to claim the dual victory, 45-30.
The seniors set the tone for the Bluejays, as Ty Everett stepped into the circle at 138 against Wes Atcitty, and turned an early advantage into a first period pin. Colt Fury added another six points to the Bluejay ledger with a hard-fought battle against M-CHS first-year Hunter Goodall. Fury built a sizable points advantage in the first period before finally collecting the pin at 3:28.
“We’ve all worked hard,” said Everett of his team’s success this year, “and we’ve been able to pick up wins against some of the best teams in the state.”
Lane Greenlee would take a 7-2 decision against Dolores’ Gabe Allred at 195 to post the final Mancos victory of the dual.
Meanwhile, M-CHS senior standout Kael Buffington claimed a victory over Clay Everett at 106 to open the account for the Panthers, picking up a pin at 1:55.
Panthers junior Jayven Valdez followed the effort with a first period pin of Trevor Paquin. Moments later, at 132, M-CHS senior Austin Featherman captured a victory over Carter Galloway.
Anthony Abeyta posted the final victory on the mat for the Panthers, downing Bluejay Cole Dainty-Guifoyle in just over a minute.
Perhaps the most enticing matches between Bluejays and Panthers came in the exhibition ring, where Mancos’ Levi Martin faced off against Buffington in a marquee showdown of light-weight classification talents, both of whom are aiming to grace the mats at the Southwest Motors Events Center in Pueblo next month.
Buffington scored a couple of early takedowns and earned himself a 5-3 lead heading to the third period. However, Martin turned the tide in the final two minutes, outscoring Buffington 8-0 to earn the 11-5 decision.
2020 state qualifiers sophomore Ayden Mathews and senior Lot Martin also tested themselves in exhibition matches against the Panthers, as Mathews edged Goodall while Martin fell to Abeyta.
For Mancos head coach Travis White, the key to his team’s growth has been their willingness to wrestle against the best in the region. “We’ve had a tough schedule, but we’re right on track to be where we want to be at regionals,” said White.
“We want to be able to go to regionals and be able to win as a team,” added Everett, “and I’m looking to get to state individually.”
However, the journey to produce a regional power began long before the 2021 campaign kicked off.
“We’ve started from the peewee level and on up,” said White, “and this group was the first group we started with, so it’s been awesome to see them develop.”
As for the development of the athletes on an individual level, Mancos senior Lot Martin attributed success on the mat to an overarching work ethic. “I’ve learned a lot about life through this,” said Martin, “like hard work – this sport might be one of the most difficult because it’s just as much mental as it is physical.”
Mancos 72, Ignacio 6Mancos opened up the day with an emphatic sequence of victories over Ignacio, headlined by a back-and-forth match at 113 between Levi Martin and Ignacio’s Devante Montoya. Martin required nearly the entire six minutes to finally wear down the Bobcat enough to capture the pin.
Dainty-Guifoyle and junior Chase Moore posted more comfortable victories to join Dillon Eichner’s win at 106 in competitive matches.
Mancos 66, Nucla 6Colt Fury stayed perfect on the day with a victory at 182, while Galloway and Moore both took first period pins in a dual victory over the Mustangs.
“They all looked good today,” concluded White, “and because we have high expectations, our kids expect to win every time they step out onto the mat.”
The commitment from the seniors, which has filtered to the underclassmen, has set the Bluejays on a high trajectory for the remainder of their season.
“This sport is not just something that I do,” said Martin, “it’s become part of my life.”
M-CHS/Dolores 42, Nucla 3M-CHS/Dolores 45, Ignacio 12The Panthers saw Abeyta, Featherman, and Goodall all provide pin victories, as the Panthers collected two dual wins. Dolores heavyweight Joe Summers avenged a loss from earlier in the season against Ignacio’s Jeremy Roderick in the headlining match-up against the Bobcats, taking a 7-2 decision.
With regionals on the horizon, the Bluejays, Panthers, and Bears hope to be at their peak fitness to advance to the state championships. The state tournament will be more selective in 2021, as only two wrestlers from each region will qualify for the state championships to be competed at the Southwest Motors Events Center in Pueblo. The 2A and 3A tournaments will be conducted in a single day – on Friday, March 12.