Jaguar wrestlers place third at Valley Invite

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Valencia High wrestling coach Tom Torres seems to be dealing with the same issues as he sees each year, such as grades and injuries.

While those bugs seem to have bitten the Jaguars a little earlier in the season than usual, one positive development is the emergence of some new talent that could help the Jags, if they can get some depth.

The Jaguars got individual titles from the two newcomers, Nate Nash and Nathan Jolley, at Saturday's season-opening Valley High Invite in Albuquerque. Torres said he was unsure how each of the 10 teams placed at the tourney, but he said the Jaguars placed third.

Valencia is set to travel to one of its bigger tournaments of the season this weekend. The Las Cruces Invite is set for Friday and Saturday at Las Cruces High.

At the Valley Invite, Nash won all three of his matches at 152 pounds to win the title. It's not a bad way for Nash to enter the high-school wrestling world; the sophomore didn't come out for wrestling as a freshman. Jolley, the son of Jaguar football coach Kevin Jolley, is also a sophomore. He won all three of his matches at 285 pounds.

The most experienced Valencia wrestler, senior Carlos Montaño, came up short in the finals after winning his first two 145-pound matches. He lost in the finals to Lawrence Otero of Volcano Vista in a battle of state champions, with Otero winning by a surprising 8-1 score.

Montaño might see Otero again several times this season, including both of the next two tournaments this month.

Two other Jaguars were runners-up: Izzirik Ponder placed second at 160 pounds, while Ramon Fuentes lost in the 182 final.

Albert Sanchez placed third at 138 pounds, and Jesus Tapa was fourth at 170.

Torres is hoping 160-pounder Ryan Hibdon can regain his academic eligibility soon. State-placer Shai Gonzales is out indefinitely with a hand injury, and Torres doesn't know when Jacob Baca will be able to recover from a shoulder issue.

The Las Cruces is one of the biggest individual tournaments in New Mexico, and offers competition involving teams from all over the state, plus west Texas.

There's a scratch meeting set for noon on Friday, with the first round to be held shortly thereafter. Saturday's action begins with consolation-round matches at 10 a.m.

On Friday and Saturday, Dec. 21 and 22, the Jaguars are set to compete in the Albuquerque Public Schools Invite at Atrisco Heritage Academy.


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