by Melissa Ray
LA VETA — On Saturday the La Veta Redskin Wrestling Program held its annual holiday tournament. Grapplers from eight schools participated in this year’s tournament including Monte Vista, Alamosa, Canon City, La Junta, Pueblo South, and Rye. “I was a little down that four teams canceled on us on Friday because of the weather, which didn’t turn out to be much. It [having more teams participate] definitely would’ve made it more competitive but I think the teams that were there did a good job. For the most part, brackets were adequate for last matches before Christmas break,” stated Coach Ron Ortivez.
As anticipated, Junior W.D. Arnold had a phenomenal day, coming away with Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament in the lower weight class division. Arnold pinned his first opponent from Canon City in 52 seconds flat, won his second match against Pueblo South by decision 6-3, and pinned his third opponent from La Junta in 1:11. Arnold went into last weekend ranked sixth in the state, 2A, in the 138 lb. class.
Senior Elliot Blessman was pinned in his first match against Rye but came back focused and aggressive the rest of the day. Blessman wrestled five opponents and pinned four of them. The grappler from Pueblo South went down in 1:12, La Junta in 1:54, Canon City 28 seconds, and Alamosa in 1:05. Way to go Elliot! “Elliot may move up (in state rankings). He lost a key match to a regional kid yesterday from Rye. We’ve still got a long season ahead of us,” said Ortivez.
Senior Eric Griego, wrestling in the 170 lb. weight class, did not wrestle last week due to injury. He made up for it on Saturday by pinning both his opponents from Canon City respectively in 1:21 and 1:09. “Eric, coming back from being wounded a little bit last week, I thought he did well. It was just a round robin but it was good for him to get back in the groove of things.” said Ortivez.
For his first tournament, Senior Austin Van Lue had a pretty fair day. He was pinned in his first match up but came back after a bye and pinned his opponent from Canon City in 1:42. Commenting, Ortivez stated, “It was Austin’s first match of the year. I thought he did well.”
Freshman Hehr Haught had a tough day. Although he did not win any of his three matches, he went the distance by wrestling all three periods with his last opponent from La Junta. He lost by decision 11-6.
Reflecting on the results of this weekend and how it will affect his wrestlers’ season after Christmas break, Ortivez said, “Our kids who were state qualifiers will be looked at. If anything, W.D. will move up [in the rankings]. There are a lot of big tournaments going on, we still have a lot of season left to go but, I don’t think they’ll [the boys] drop from where they are.”
About the integrity of his grapplers: “W.D. got outstanding wrestler in the lower weights and Eric got a couple of votes in the upper weights so that says a lot about how they conduct themselves on the mat. The execution they are doing out there is a reflection on the program. It’s always a plus to have that kind of recognition from other coaches who are voting for our kids. I am very pleased thus far.”
The Redskin wrestlers head to Custer County on January 12 for their first tournament after the Christmas break . Ortivez expects it to be a tough one. “It’s a pretty solid tournament. It’s progressively gotten better over the years.”
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