Morenci wrestlers slip past Bulldogs to end December

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Dawson Andrews (152) pinned Morenci’s Cody Torres in the third period. Andrews was one of five Bulldogs who earned a win by pin during a meet in Morenci on Dec. 27. Morenci edged Safford 37-33.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

MORENCI – As two juggernauts of the wrestling world collided, the Morenci Wildcats closed out its initial month of competition by defending its own turf and slipped past the Safford Bulldogs 37-33 in Wildcat Memorial Gymnasium on Dec. 27.

The teams had met a month earlier in Mesa during the two-day Red Mountain Invitational, with Morenci posting a 44-22 win.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Carlos Bray (126) has his arm held up by the official signifying a win over Zion Granados. Bray was one of five Wildcats to earn a head-to-head win against Safford.

The Wildcats prevailed in 5-of-11 head-to-head bouts, two by first-period pin, one by a second-period pin, one by a 17-4 major decision, and one by a 13-3 decision. Additionally, two forfeit wins were awarded to Morenci.

Safford won five matches by pin and another by a 1-point decision in four extra periods following a 4-4 regulation deadlock.

Individually for Morenci, Tony Roybal (106) pinned Bo Quiroz in the first period, Nathan Willey (220) pinned Christopher Montez in the first period, Omar Ortega (285) pinned Zach Juarez in the second period, PaulDaniel Moreno notched a 17-4 major decision over Uriah Benavidez, Carlos Bray (126) decisioned Zion Granados 13-3, and both Calvin Dunning (120) and Vance Arthur (152) received forfeit wins.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci’s bench holds up two fingers for points that went unheeded during the closing seconds of a 4-4 regulation tie. Ruben Casillas (145) was decisioned in four overtimes by McKade Finch.

For Safford, Robert White (182) pinned Steven Roybal in the first period, Briggs Baldwin (195) pinned Beau Wagner in the first period, Jared Garcia (138) pinned Kaden Summer in the second period, Thomas Kinnebrew (113) pinned Marcus Morales in the third period, Dawson Andrews (152) pinned Cody Torres in the third period, and McKade Finch (145) decisioned Ruben Casillas 5-4 in four extra periods.

The four-member St. David team fielded a lone competitor against both teams. Brayden Merrill (126) bested Andrew Bermudez of Safford and succumbed to Calvin Dunning of Morenci.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: There was no escape from a second Nathan Willey (220) first period take down for Christopher Montez. Willey recorded a pin.

“These matches are all practice,” sixth-year Morenci head coach Casey Woodall said. “As long as they learn and improve every time they step on the mat, that’s all that matters to me. The meet that matters is the state-qualifying one.”

Morenci returns to competition in January, attending the two-day Coolidge Invitational on the 11th and 12th, the Thatcher Multi-meet on the 16th, the two-day Doc Wright Invitational in Winslow on the 18th and 19th, and the Miami Multi-meet on the 23rd, prior to the sectional meet Feb. 2.