Eagles hoping its younger wrestlers can step up quickly

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If the Belen High wrestling team gets its veterans to do their usual work, the Eagles will have a solid team. However, it usually takes more than “solid” to win state championships.

News-Bulletin file photo: Belen’s Wyatt Robinson, top, is hoping he can help the Eagles capture the Class 4A state team title this season. The Eagles are ranked second in Class 4A in the News-Bulletin’s statewide preseason coaches poll.

Loaded with talented seniors, sophomores and freshmen, the Eagles, who placed second at last February’s state championships, are poised to make a serious bid for their first team state title since 2008.

The Eagles open the 2012-13 season with the Tiger Invite at Los Lunas High on Saturday, Dec. 8.

Belen, ranked second in Class 4A in the preseason News-Bulletin state wide coaches poll, had a wrestler qualified for state in every weight class except 285 pounds in 2011-12. Two-time defending state champions Phillip Gonzales and Wyatt Robinson, and other state placers, are hoping to get the season started well — although, it’s how the Eagles finish at the end that will matter more.

Robinson and other Eagles are a part of the BHS football team and its postseason run, so it will take a few tournaments for coach Lee Chaves to get his complete lineup set.

“If the seniors perform well, we’ll go far,” said Chaves, now in his eighth year as the BHS coach. “But for us to win state, the freshmen and the sophomores are going to have to grow up very quickly.”

The Eagles graduated several main contributors. The team’s 113-pounder, Patrick Armijo, along with 138-pounder C.J. Gonzales, 152/160-pounder Anthony Burgueño, Ricky Martinez at 170 and 220-pounder Stephen Barba, all had an impact at most regular-season meets and at state.

Burgueño reached the state championship match in his weight class in both 2010-11 and 2011-12. Armijo went at least as far as the semifinals the past two seasons, while Gonzales placed fourth last year at 138.

Among the returners, Gonzales won state last year at 120 pounds, and Robinson won his title at 145. They are the team leaders. Gonzales will go at either 126 or 132 this season, while Robinson will be at either 145 or 152.

Much of the lineup in the lower and middle weights will be driven by which weights Gonzales and Robinson are placed at, and this may vary, depending on the matchup.

“We should have the luxury of moving Phillip and Wyatt around a little, depending on where everyone certifies at,” said Chaves.

There are other Eagles who performed well at state last year, such as senior Brandon Montiel, who placed fourth at 106 pounds.

“Brandon has a good chance of winning state this year,” said Chaves. “The good thing about an upperclassman who is still at 106 is that he’s had time to get stronger.”

Anthony Trujillo, filling in for Armijo at 113 for most of last season, performed admirably as a freshman. Chaves said he beat two state placers.

Chris Romero is a junior who is hoping to crack the lineup at 113, as well.

Matthew Lucero placed sixth at state at 126 pounds as a freshman. Chaves mentioned him in the discussion of 132-pounders, with freshman Tristen Davis a possibility for 126. The way Gonzales, the two-time state champ, is utilized, will have the biggest impact on those two weight classes.

Kaiden Waldren got some varsity mat time last year as a sophomore. He is penciled in at 138 this year. Promising freshman Gunner Robinson, the younger brother of Wyatt Robinson, can go at 138 or 145.

Senior Danny Chavez placed sixth at state at 160 pounds. He’ll either stay at that weight or drop to 152, as Burgueño did last year.

Stetson Schutte, a senior and football player, plans to wrestle possibly at about 160 pounds, and Frederick Oldfield and Joseph Quezada could be at that weight or 170.

Chaves said sophomore Jonathan Madrid had a great summer in wrestling, and the emerging football star would likely be a 182-pound wrestler.

Dylan Greenlee placed fourth at state at 195, despite an injury. The senior has slimmed down, Chaves, said, and could end up at either 182 or 195 this year.

The Eagles haven’t had much depth at the heaviest weights in recent years. They’re hoping the solution is arriving in the form of sophomores David Martinez and Isaiah Rutherford and senior Jeremiah Jaramillo.

David Martinez lost weight after his eighth-grade season and wrestled at 182 pounds last year as a freshman.

“We expect big things out of David,” Chaves said of Martinez.

Rutherford is set to go at 220, while Jaramillo will be at heavyweight (285).

The Eagles’ second-place trophy last February earned Belen its first top-three trophy since 2009. BHS won six consecutive titles from 2002-03 to 2007-08, and, with 177.5 points to Piedra Vista’s 204.5, could have had another blue in trophy in 2012, were it not for a few injuries and breaks.

Chaves has been impressed with not only the leadership of the seniors, but also the classes of 2015 and 2016. Sophomores Diego Gutierrez, Cameron Gutierrez and Dominic Martinez will be working to crack the lineup as well.


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