Not-quite-complete Eagle, Tiger wrestling teams gain experience

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There was plenty of discussion Saturday about what the Belen and Los Lunas wrestling teams will look like once football players get up to speed.

Jason W. Brooks-News-Bulletin photo: Belen’s Phillip Gonzales, top, tries to gain an advantage in his match with Gabe Alvarado of Los Lunas in Saturday’s Tiger Duals at Los Lunas High. Belen placed fifth and LLHS was sixth amid a solid field of teams.

However, the wrestlers who took the Los Lunas High mats at the season-opening Tiger Duals made a mark of their own — and some young wrestlers got to make a case for where they fit into the lineups.

As if Belen and Los Lunas weren’t going to face each other enough this season, the two undermanned teams met in the one-day tourney’s fifth-place match, with Belen winning, 41-36.

This weekend, the Eagles travel to the Las Cruces Invite, while the Tigers head to a tourney at Capital High. Both squads are slated to compete in the Panther Duals at Piedra Vista in Farmington on Saturday, Dec. 22.

At Los Lunas, the Tigers lost 57-24 to Carlsbad and beat Centennial, the new Las Cruces school, 45-24, in pool competition, then lost to Deming 52-21 and to Belen in the Silver Bracket. Belen lost to Deming, 46-22, and beat Oñate, 45-36, in its pool before downing Centennial, 49-24, and Los Lunas.

Rio Grande, the No. 3-ranked team in Class 5A in the preseason News-Bulletin statewide coaches poll, won the tournament, followed by Carlsbad, Mayfield and Deming.

A combined Belen-Los Lunas “Valencia County JV” also competed at the tourney.

“Some of our guys got to wrestle state champions,” said Belen coach Lee Chaves. “Monday (of this week) was something we were excited for, because we get to see how our football players look, but some young guys got some great experience last weekend.”

Of course, both Belen and LLHS had a few of their proven veterans available. Belen’s Phillip Gonzales, a two-time defending state champion, easily won all four of his matches Saturday.

One of the younger Eagles that caught Chaves’ attention was 220-pounder Tyler Olguin.

“I haven’t seen a big guy as aggressive as he is in a long time,” said Chaves. “He impressed me. He was able to shoot, and get some guys on their backs.”

Tristen Davis 3-1 at 126 pounds, and heavyweight Zane Nuñez won his first varsity match. Drake Goodwill pinned an opponent, and first-year wrestler Jesus Ortega made LLHS state placer Mark Hussey work hard in the fifth-place dual.

Sophomore Matthew Baca was competitive in all of his 106-pound matches.

The Eagles, ranked No. 2 in 4A behind Piedra Vista, are hoping their next two tournaments are where their football players get some action, including two-time state champ Wyatt Robinson, as well as Matthew Lucero, Anthony Trujillo and Jeremiah Garcia. Danny Chavez is hoping to become academically eligible soon, and Brandon Montiel is recovering from a broken wrist.

LLHS coach Steve Chavez was without football players Isaac Parra, Charles Truesdell, George Truesdell, Mikey Martinez, Nick Aragon, Adam Coughlin and others. Ricardo Alvarado was out with a concussion.

Chavez seemed pleased with how his least-experienced wrestlers performed for the third-ranked Tigers.

“The guys that filled in did real well,” said Chavez. “This tournament is all about mat time. Our horses (top wrestlers) did well, but we need to work on conditioning. The third period just wasn’t there. We were trying too hard. I’m happy to be in the top six.”

In the Belen dual, the Tigers got pins in the four lightest divisions from Michael Freeman, Andrew Salazar, Miguel Alvarado and A.J. Sauceda, and at 195 pounds from Hussey.


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