Dante Sandman can call himself a San Juan Basin League champion.
The 132-pound wrestler from Ignacio High School won his lone match Thursday night in the IHS auxiliary gymnasium as part of the league duals. He defeated Norwood’s Cash Joseph despite a 7-2 deficit early in the third period. Sandman would turn the match around in a hurry, as he went on to pin Joseph 1 minute, 11 seconds into the third period to secure the league title in his weight class.
Sandman was one of two Ignacio wrestlers crowned league champs Thursday night, though heavyweight Randy Herrera did not have to wrestle. His forfeit victory also gave him a league title.
The SJBL Championships were contested between Dolores, Dove Creek, Ignacio, Mancos, Norwood and Nucla. With participation numbers down, the teams did not wrestle in head-to-head duals format. Most wrestlers on each team wrestled only once to determine champions.
Mancos had the best showing of all, as eight of its nine wrestlers won. Four of those victories came via pin. The Bluejays boast 17 wrestlers on the roster this season, though not all of them competed in the league meet.
One of Mancos’ big wins came from Colt Fury at 152 pounds in a highly anticipated matchup with Tyler Barnes of Ignacio. Both wrestlers entered the week ranked in the latest On the Mat rankings from Tim Yount, the authority in Colorado high school wrestling rankings. Fury was ranked ninth, while Barnes was ranked 15th.
Fury, who has wrestled all season with a damaged right elbow that he had surgery on last summer, was able to race out to a 7-0 lead through two periods. Barnes would not give Fury the pin, but the Mancos boy secured a 12-3 major decision win.
Ignacio’s Jeremy Roderick was on the wrong end of a first-period pin at 220 pounds. Dolores’ Dylan Escarcega was able to get the win 55 seconds into the first period.
IHS was without Keaton McCoy at 126 pounds. Isaac Welker wrestled at 138 but only competed in an exhibition match and not the championships.
Dolores had only two athletes compete. Norwood, which usually boasts a full roster, had only five, and two wrestled at the same weight. Nucla brought seven wrestlers, but only three competed.
The teams will all prepare for next week’s regional tournaments with state qualification on the line.
Sports writer Joel Priest contributed to this email@example.com