by David Tesitor
CENTER– The John Mall Panthers will send eight wrestlers to Denver for the 2010 State Wrestling Tournament which begins today. The Panthers garnered 152 points to finish in second place, well ahead of third-place Center with 118.50 points. Perennial wrestling powerhouse, Ignacio, earned 209.50 points, which included ten state qualifiers.
Along the way, the Panthers also crowned two regional champions in Waylon Cordova at 119 pounds and Brian Aguirre at 135. Also qualifying for the big show were Jacob Tenorio (103), who took second place; John Paul Vigil (112), who claimed fourth place; Andre Ortiz (160 ),who took third; Stuart Pino (171), who took fourth; Isaac Sierra, who took third; and heavyweight Lorenzo Trujillo who took fourth. For details about the qualifiers and their biographies, see related stories.
Three other wrestlers failed to qualify for the State Tourney but gave a solid performance. John Burch (130) was pinned in his opening bout by James Thompson at the 1:21 mark but won his match in a closely fought 14-12 decision. Burch fell behind 10-7 early in the second period, but escaped a hold, claiming two points to narrow the gap. Trailing 12-11, Burch scored a take down and near-pin with ten seconds remaining to win the match 14-12. Burch was in the consolation semifinals and was pinned in 32 seconds by Jack Woods of Custer County, the ultimate third-place finisher. In his last match, with a chance to claim fifth place, Burch wrestled Rene Bustamante of Center to the limit. Leading into the last period, Burch was taken down with one minute remaining and lost the two points, giving Bustamante the 7-6 win.
Jacob Pino (140) finished fifth at regionals when he pinned Ben Suliak of South Park at 3:42. The final regional placer was Eric Figueroa who finished in fifth place. Figueroa pinned Dillon Gonzales of Sanford at 2:31. Figueroa won his first bout by pinfall over Gonzales but lost his second bout in the semifinals, moving him into the consolation bracket and the rematch.