Jaguar grapplers might be without their champion; Vivian Invite this weekend

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Like many high school wrestling teams, the Valencia Jaguars sort of lumbered out of the Christmas break. Fortunately, the Jaguars have a month to go before the district and state championships.

Last weekend, the Jaguars only took eight wrestlers to the Al Salazar Memorial Invite at St. Michael's High in Santa Fe, due partly to some wrestlers not making enough practices during the break. They placed ninth among 15 scoring teams at the Salazar Invite.

Valencia is set to wrestle its annual dual at Los Lunas High at 7 p.m. Wednesday. All three of the county's schools will send wrestlers to the season's biggest tournament, the Joe Vivian Invite, set for Friday and Saturday at Albuquerque High.

Valencia hosts Belen at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 23, and competes at an Albuquerque tournament at West Mesa High on Saturday, Jan. 26.

"We've got a lot of work to do, still," said Torres. "St. Mike's was a tough turnaround. We got back from the first day kind of late, and we got back on the bus at 5:30 a.m."

However, the Jags didn't make it to the second day with top senior Carlos Montaño. Competing at 138 pounds, the defending state champion got a bye Friday and then pinned a Roswell High opponent, but had an accident at home on Friday night.

Montaño's father, Phillip, said Carlos tripped in a bathroom at home and hit his head on a floor heating unit, opening a gash above his eye that required 18 stitches. He is not expected to compete at either the Los Lunas dual or the Vivian Invite, and may also miss the Belen dual and other events.

Montaño also had to bow out of last month's APS Invite because he had the flu.

Another senior, 182-pounder Ramon Fuentes, missed the entire tourney due to a family emergency, Torres said.

The top-placing Jaguar at the Salazar tourney was 126-pounder Joseph Barela. The sophomore beat a St. Mike's wrestler to take third. Nate Nash, at 152 pounds, placed fourth.

Several Jaguars lost in the consolation semifinals Jacob Pino (120 pounds), Albert Sanchez (145), Jacob Baca (160) and Nathan Jolley (285) all reached the consolation semifinals — one round away from the third-place match.

Torres is hoping Jolley and other Jaguars can win some matches at the Vivian Invite.


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