WALSENBURG — The annual wrestling tournament sponsored by the John Mall Panthers brought in teams from across the state to wrestle in the pre-Christmas event which was renamed five years ago after long time supporters of the sport, Pete and Ina Gomez. Area wrestlers placed high in the medal rounds. Herr Haught of La Veta finished the tournament in second place in the 145-pound weight class. To get there, the La Veta grappler won his first three matches by easy pin falls. His first round win against Cedric Buck of Saint Mary’s came 19 seconds in the second period; his second came at the 1:14 mark against Cody Kolbe of Custer County and his third against Ryan Saine of Manzanola at the 2:34 mark. Entering the finals, Haught met his match against Blake Denton of Swink, a returning state qualifier. Denton took control early and was crowned champion with a major decision win over Haught, 15-3. Haught was the only La Veta athlete who competed. Jason Murphy of the Panthers also took second place and was the highest placing Panther on the day. He won his first two matches by quick first round pins. In his first match of the day, he defeated Thomas Dunford of Pueblo Centennial in 1:22. His second match was just as impressive as he laid Ricky Waits’ shoulders to the mat in 1:23, setting up the championship bout. He was not able to carry forward the momentum and he fell to Kyle Hicks of Lamar by pin in 48 seconds. Murphy was taken off guard and dropped to the mat to where he could not recover. Other Panthers saw success on the mat as well. Freshman Jonathan Andreatta (106) lost his first match of the season in the second match of the day. Andreatta had a first round bye, then wrestled his first quarterfinal match, winning easily by pin 33 seconds in the second. After a slow start and trailing late in the first, Andreatta took charge and continued the momentum before the pin. He then met Justin Maldonado of Trinidad in the semi-finals who wrestles in the 3A class and who is also undefeated. Andreatta struggled in the match and lost a tough 8-2 decision. The loss put Jonathan in the third-place bracket where he defeated his opponent Jesse Shelton of Lamar (3A) by pin in .53 seconds. The loss may not jeopardize his current first place ranking as the numbers 2-3 also have seen defeat. In the 120-pound weight class, Marshall Ross placed fourth. In the quarterfinals he defeated Vincent Santistevan of Trinidad with five seconds remaining on the clock in the third. Ross was ahead on points and the pin at the end of the round propelled him into the semifinals where he was defeated by Michael Johnson of Lamar in a quick .32 seconds. Ross needed three wins to wrestle in the third-place bracket. He won the first easily in an 11-0 major decision over Noah Belcher, and won the next two matches by pinfall, placing him in the third-place bracket. He then lost to Jordon Valdez of Swink. Of note, the 120-pound bracket was complete with 16 wrestlers, and because Ross lost his second match, it placed him in the brackets which required he win if he wanted to wrestle for third. Tim Pacheco (126) took third. After a first round victory, Pacheco lost the next match to Ivan Villasenor of Lamar. Pacheco went on to win the next four matches which ended when he defeated Antonio Finely of Pueblo East to capture third place. Zane Barber (170) placed fourth on the day, losing his last match to Mario Morales in a major decision, 18-5. Barber’s second match was a win by forfeit and his third ended in defeat, placing him in the consolation rounds, where he handily defeated Damian Montoya of Trinidad by pin at 1:35. The final medal placer was heavyweight Andrew Vigil who also brought home a third place medal. In his second round he defeated Gabe Trujillo of Taos by pin with five seconds remaining in the second round. He would also meet Trujillo to wrestle for third place. He had little trouble with Trujillo who was previously ranked 6th in the state prior to entering the tournament. Other Panthers who did not bring home the medals but who competed were Izaak Perino who took sixth place, going 2-3 on the day and Adam Bobian who fought a hard battle in his two matches, coming up short.
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