Eagle and Tiger wrestling teams still not at full strength

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There were still plenty of unanswered questions for the Belen and Los Lunas wrestling teams after Saturday’s Panther Duals at Piedra Vista in Farmington.

Perhaps the only thing that is known is that the least-experienced Eagles and Tigers have now faced some of weakest — and strongest — opponents within Class 4A. Neither team took a full varsity squad to Piedra Vista, where Belen took fourth in the Gold bracket and Los Lunas went 1-1 in the Silver bracket.

News-Bulletin file photo: Los Lunas freshman Michael Freeman was among the Tiger wrestlers who went undefeated in Saturday’s Panther Duals at Piedra Vista High in Farmington on Saturday. The Eagles and Los Lunas both faced tough competition at the duals tournament.

Belen had several of its most experienced wrestlers missing from the heavier weights due to injuries, and Los Lunas still does not have some of its football players ready.

Piedra Vista, the No. 1-ranked team in Class 4A in last month’s preseason News-Bulletin statewide coaches poll, won the tournament by beating St. Michael’s, 55-18, in the final match of the Gold bracket.

Los Lunas is idle until the Don Owen Invite in Carlsbad the weekend of Jan. 4-5. The Eagles’ next meet is the Pinto Duals at Moriarty on Saturday, Jan. 12.

“It’s frustrating to have all these injuries,” said Belen coach Lee Chaves, who didn’t take his 145-, 170-, 182-, 195- or 285-pound regulars. “The tournament was frustrating. The format wasn’t very good. I’m just glad it’s over.”

The Eagles, ranked No. 2 in 4A behind Piedra Vista, had freshmen or sophomores in 12 of the 14 weight classes. Belen beat Ignacio, Colo., and District 6-4A rival Gallup to advance to the Gold bracket.

Piedra Vista dominated Belen in the Gold semifinals by a 74-5 score, with two-time state champion Wyatt Robinson getting Belen’s only win of the dual. Aztec edged the Eagles, 43-42, in the bracket’s third-place match.

Chaves said the weigh-in had a one-pound allowance that some teams were unaware of, and the Eagles had to weigh in and wrestle quickly upon arrival. There was also a lot of down-time at the event, he said.

LLHS coach Steve Chavez was still without football players Isaac Parra, Mikey Martinez and Eddie Canizo. He seemed pleased with the No. 3-ranked Tigers’ performance.

The Tigers lost to Dove Creek, Colo., and beat 6-4A foe Miyamura in their pool. Los Lunas defeated Kirtland Central and Shiprock and lost to Bloomfield in the Silver bracket.

Michael Freeman, Ricardo Alvarado, Mark Hussey and Charles Truesdell all went undefeated for the Tigers.

“I’m glad we were in that pool,” said Chavez. “We should have made it to the Gold bracket, but what can you do? We didn’t have our 145, 152, 170 or 220, but we got mat time for a lot of guys.”

Read the Saturday, Dec. 29 News-Bulletin for the results of the December statewide coaches poll.


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