Small group of Jaguars does work at state’s big meet

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There are still a lot of holes in the Valencia High wrestling team’s linuep.

Jason W. Brooks-News-Bulletin photo: Valencia’s Nate Nash, right, competes in Saturday’s action at the Joe Vivian Invite. The Jaguars’ small lineup earned 66 points at the giant meet, and will host Belen for a 7 p.m. dual on Wednesday.

However, if the active Jaguars can continue to build on performances like last weekend’s 16th-place performance at the Joe Vivian Invite, a more complete lineup might really boost optimism as the district and state championships approach.

With only nine wrestlers winning at least one match at the invite, held at Albuquerque High, the Jaguars still scored 66 points — only 13.5 fewer than district rival Los Lunas — and they did it with no wrestlers getting as far as the third-place match.

“When we can get them all together, we’ll see what happens,” said VHS coach Tom Torres. “We’re just getting ‘pennies,’ little wins here and there.”

Valencia is set to host a home dual at 7 p.m. dual Wednesday against Belen. The Jags won’t have Carlos Montaño available for the dual, as he is recovering from a head injury suffered at home, but Torres hopes to have his star senior available for Saturday’s tournament at West Mesa.

The Jaguars also travel to Eldorado for a dual on Wednesday, Jan. 30.

The Vivian tourney is a giant, all-classes tournament that is tougher than the state championships in some ways. Torres, whose team is tied for fifth this month’s News-Bulletin coaches poll, seemed very pleased with his young team’s effort at the Vivian.

Senior Jacob Baca and sophomore Nate Nash both reached the consolation semifinals in their divisions.

Nash’s performance was one of the highlights of the weekend for VHS. The sophomore lost in Friday’s first round, then won four consecutive matches, including two in overtime, before a 2-1 loss to Corey Morrow of Manzano, just short of the placing round.

One of the wins was a surprising overtime pin of Belen’s Danny Chavez.

Baca, at 160 pounds, was trailing a Moriarty opponent in a consolation-round match, 8-4, when he got a pin to win it. He lost to state champion Korey Windham of St. Michael’s, 13-6, one round short of the third-place match.

Sophomore Nathan Jolley won three matches at 285 pounds, including one over District 6-4A rival Christopher Chee of Gallup. Freshman Jesus Tapia pinned three opponents at 182 pounds.

Torres is hoping his young wrestlers can continue to be competitive until Montaño can help the Jags earn points again. “We’ve got good guys coming up, but lots of freshmen and sophomores, who don’t have experience,” said Torres. “I’ve only got 22 guys left.”


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