by David Tesitor
CENTER — The John Mall Panthers traveled to Center last weekend to participate in the Valley Classic wrestling tournament and came away with three placers.
The tournament also provided a chance for the wrestlers to meet competitors for the first time this season that they will likely face at the Regional Tournament to be held in Fowler February 15-16. John Mall took five wrestlers to the tournament.
Competing at 126 pounds was John Paul Vigil, currently ranked number seven in the state. After a first round bye, Vigil faced Robert Gonzalez of Del Norte. The two wrestled the time limit with Vigil taking the 5-4 decision, placing him in the semifinals.
He then met Noah Trujillo of Antonito, who is ranked fourth in the state. Trujillo pinned Vigil twenty seconds into the third period after a close first two periods. Vigil’s third match was against Jacob Shafer of Rye. Vigil previously has defeated Schafer and had little trouble this time as he earned the pin in 1:40 seconds.
In the final match of the day, Vigil lost to Jeremy Moreno of Center in a close 1-0 decision earning him a fourth-place finish. All of Vigil’s opponents will wrestle at the regional meet.
Jacob Pino took third place at the Valley Classic. After losing his first match of the day to Jorge Quinonez of Paonia, ranked fourth in the state, he came back to win his next match over George Weatherford of Center in a 5-3 decision. He then defeated Leo Gallegos of Mountain Valley in a 3-1 decision to claim third.
Lorenzo Trujillo was the final placer for the Panthers in the Heavyweight division. The weight class only had four participants so winning the first match automatically put the wrestler in the finals. Trujillo drew the number one wrestler in the state, Troy Darling of Paonia, who posts a 26-1 record. Trujillo was pinned in 1:06. His next bout was against Dillon Stinson of Rye. Trujillo was pinned at 1:15, earning a fourth-place finish.
Zane Barber and Julius Langer, who both wrestle at 145 pounds, lost their opening round bouts. Langer fell to Herr Haught of La Veta and Barber to Jimmy Gollhugh of Mountain Valley. In the consolation bracket, Haught defeated Barber and Gollhugh defeated Langer.
The Panthers will have a warm-up dual versus Canon City tomorrow before they head to the regional meet. The Regional Tournament will determine who will then advance. The top four placers in Fowler will advance to the State Tournament in Denver on February 21-23.
Wins over 20 awards at the annual Colorado Press Association convention, including General Excellence for the second year in a row World Journal Staff Report