With injuries and no state champs, Tigers still fifth

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While the Los Lunas High wrestling team was hoping to finish a little higher than fifth place at last weekend’s state championships, there is reason to celebrate.

Jason W. Brooks-News-Bulletin photo: Miguel Alvarado of Los Lunas, top, battles Anthony Juckes of Piedra Vista in the 113-pound state finals Saturday. Alvarado lost in his first-ever finals appearance, and he helped the Tigers place fifth as a team in Class 4A.

Without any individual state champions, the Tigers still scored 135 points with a relatively young team. Only one of the 12 Tigers who scored points last weekend is a senior, so the upside for LLHS looks strong for the next few seasons.

“I’m very happy,” said Los Lunas’ seventh-year coach, Steve Chavez. “With the injuries we had in the past month or so, I think we did great. We should have a lot of explosive wrestlers back next year.”

Miguel Alvarado, at 113 pounds, was the only Tiger to reach the finals. He advanced in the semifinals when Belen’s Patrick Armijo re-injured his shoulder, and Alvarado lost 6-4 to Piedra Vista’s Anthony Juckes in the championship round.

Alvarado, a sophomore, was making his first-ever state finals appearance. He trailed Juckes 4-2 after one period and 6-4 after the second, but just couldn’t get a handle on Juckes in the third round.

One of the biggest upsets of the tournament happened in the 170-pound class. Tiger junior Isaac Parra, LLHS’s lone returning champion, was beaten 6-2 in the quarterfinals by Santa Teresa’s unheralded Freddy Garciasala, who ended up reaching the finals.

It would be one of only five losses this season for Parra, The junior came back to win four straight matches and place third, beating some tough opponents along the way. He capped his weekend with a dramatic last-second takedown in the third-place match against Santa Fe High’s Jonah Schmelz, who had beaten him in a December tournament.

Another junior, Charles Truesdell, was pinned in the semis, but came back to pin Belen’s Dylan Greenlee, just as he had done a week before at the District 6-4A meet. He took third by injury default, as his Piedra Vista opponent didn’t wrestle.

“Charles wrestled like a beast this weekend,” said Chavez.

Ricardo Alvarado, also a junior, placed fourth at 120 pounds, and eighth-grader Mark Hussey was fourth at 182. He lost by one point in his third-place match against Bloomfield’s John Elsaesser.

Parra has been working closely in mentoring Hussey.

“To place fourth in the upper weights at state, as an eighth-grader, wow. I’m proud of him for that,” said Parra.

Freshman Ricky Cervantes was the only Tiger in any of the fifth-place matches. He beat Chaparral’s Daniel Coheto 2-0 to claim fifth at 106 pounds.

“Ricky was unbelievable,” said Chavez. “What he did in the class is outstanding.”

The Tigers lost several wrestlers to injuries in the last five weeks of the season, including two seniors. One was Michael De La Torre, who placed third at 145 last year.

“We definitely over-achieved,” said Chavez.


-- Email the author at jbrooks@news-bulletin.com.