Tiger wrestlers hold off Belen as lineups evolve


It’s taking a while to see what the Belen and Los Lunas wrestling teams will look like at next month’s district and state championships. In the meantime, some new stars continue to emerge for each team.

Jason W. Brooks-News-Bulletin photo: Los Lunas sophomore Chris Gallegos, top, tries to gain an advantage in his come-from-behind win over Belen freshman Gunner Robinson in Wednesday’s dual. The Tigers held off the Eagles, winning 43-25, and LLHS will host Valencia at 7 pm., Wednesday, Jan. 16.

In Wednesday night’s 43-25 Los Lunas victory over Belen, both teams got some pleasant surprises — a welcome sight with about five weeks left before the district meet. Los Lunas is idle this weekend before hosting Valencia at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 16, while the Eagles are set to compete in the 8 a.m. Pinto Duals on Saturday at Moriarty.

“This was a good victory for us,” said LLHS coach Steve Chavez, whose team did well at the heavier weights on Wednesday. “We’re still waiting on a couple of guys, but almost everyone is improving.”

The host Tigers clinched the dual when Isaac Parra earned an 11-0 majority decision over Belen’s David Martinez at 220 pounds. Chavez said he moved Parra up to 220 (and Charles Truesdell down to 195, where he won with a quick pin) to see how Martinez would fare.

The annual dual began at 120 pounds, where Ricardo Alvarado of LLHS outlasted the Eagles’ Anthony Trujillo. Miguel Alvarado, a Tiger senior, then earned a 6-0 decision over one of Belen’s many talented freshmen, Tristen Davis, at 126.

Phillip Gonzales of Belen, at 132, got some resistance from A.J. Sauceda before pinning the Tiger in the second round.

The first surprise of the night happened at 138 pounds, where Belen’s Matthew Lucero pinned Gabe Alvarado in the first round.

“Gabe panicked a little, I guess,” said Chavez. “We need to work with him on his focus.”

Chris Gallegos of Los Lunas returned the favor at 145, overcoming a 5-2 deficit to beat BHS freshman Gunnar Robinson, 8-5, earning the tying and winning points in the final minute.

Eddie Canizo of the Tigers waged an entertaining 152-pound match against Belen’s two-time state champion, Wyatt Robinson. While he lost, 19-7, he showed some defensive moves that kept the match going.

Los Lunas won by pin at 160 pounds (Mikey Martinez) and 182 (Mark Hussey). The Tigers’ Tristen Rasp, at 170, got the only forfeit win of the night for either team.

After the outcome was settled, Belen senior Zane Nuñez pinned George Truesdell of Los Lunas in an entertaining heavyweight match.

Another Eagle senior, Brandon Montiel, got a hard-earned win over LLHS freshman Michael Freeman at 106 pounds. Los Lunas’ Andrew Salazar got a late pin at 113 pounds.

Los Lunas needed a late pin to win last year’s dual.

Belen coach Lee Chaves was impressed with how Martinez and several other Eagles performed.

“I wanted Martinez to wrestle (Charles) Truesdell, but that will happen eventually,” said Chaves. “Matthew (Lucero) had a great practice yesterday, so we had a feeling he would look good here. Tristen and Anthony wrestled damn tough. Zane stepped up, and we weren’t even sure if we were going to wrestle Brandon.”

Montiel, who broke his hand in a pre-season practice, said his younger teammates need senior leadership.

“We just have to show them that a team means going 100 percent, all the time,” said Montiel. “And learning from mistakes.”

Chavez said some of the Tigers are showing the kind of fire needed for this point in the season. Belen, Los Lunas and Valencia and many other teams will be at the Joe Vivian Invite the weekend of Jan. 18-19 at Albuquerque High.

“Freeman wrestled excellent,” said Chavez. “Chris Gallegos came back, and Canizo, I’m so proud of him.”

Chaves, whose Eagles were ranked second ahead of LLHS and behind Piedra Vista in the December News-Bulletin coaches poll, is pleased with his team’s intensity level. He will gain the services of Chris Romero and Danny Chavez, meaning the lineup will likely be shuffled more.

“We had two of the top three teams in 4A out here tonight,” said Chaves. “Not one single guy gave up tonight.”

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