Tigers first; Eagles fourth at Robertson


After an emotional weekend tournament in Las Vegas, N.M., the Belen and Los Lunas wrestling teams have almost reached their aiming point.

Jason W. Brooks-News-Bulletin photo: Los Lunas senior Mikey Martinez, top, was one of five Tigers to make the gold-bracket finals at a Robertson High tournament last weekend. The Tigers won the tourney and Belen was fourth, and both teams will compete in the District 6-4A tournament at BHS on Saturday, Feb. 16.

Los Lunas took first place, and Belen placed fourth at the Cardinal Classic, held Friday and Saturday at Robertson High. Belen, ranked third behind Piedra Vista and Los Lunas in this month’s News-Bulletin coaches poll, is set to host a dual against St. Michael’s at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Belen and Los Lunas are then idle until the Feb. 16 District 6-4A Championships at BHS.

The state championships will be held the weekend of Feb. 22-23 at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.

Los Lunas battled to first place despite not having head coach Steve Chavez and his assistant and brother, Ruben, around for most of the tourney. Their father, Saturnino, passed away unexpectedly Friday, and the brothers left the tournament, with nephew Joey Chavez as the only assistant coach left with the Tigers.

The tournament’s complicated scoring system awards points wrestlers score for wins in Friday’s round-robin format, as well as Saturday’s individual brackets. More than 20 schools competed.

Joey Chavez said he’s thankful to the parents who helped chaperone the team after the two coaches had to leave. He said the Tigers dedicated the first place trophy to Saturnino and the Chavez family.

“Hearing the news wasn’t easy for me — or the team,” said Joey Chavez. “But the guys really wrestled hard, and just kept it going the whole weekend.”

Thirteen of the 14 Tigers at the tourney reached the gold bracket in their weight classes. Five Tigers made the gold finals, and even though all five lost, it was enough to give the Tigers 345 points and win the tourney.

Silver was a close second with 339.5 points, while Aztec was third with 309 and Belen was fourth with 276.5.

Ricardo Alvarado (120 pounds), A.J. Sauceda (132), Mikey Martinez (160), Mark Hussey (182) and Isaac Parra (195) all made the finals. Martinez’s final was the closest, as he battled out of a near-fall position against Los Alamos’ Cory Geyer, but couldn’t get the take down to tie it in the final seconds, and lost 10-8.

Roman Cervantes took third in the gold bracket at 106 pounds. Eddie Canizo, at 152 pounds, and Charles Truesdell, at 220, placed fourth.

Andrew Salazar (113 pounds), Miguel Alvarado (126), Gabe Alvarado (138), Tristen Rasp (170) and George Truesdell (285) all reached the gold bracket, but didn’t win any matches there. Ty TenBrink went 2-1 in the bronze bracket at 145 pounds.

“It was nice to finally have the whole team available,” said Joey Chavez.

Belen didn’t take a couple of its wrestlers, and didn’t have anyone place first in the gold bracket, yet still placed fourth.

“Everyone won at least one match,” said BHS coach Lee Chaves. “It’s kind of a weird format, which is why team place is kind of tough to get wrapped up in. But a lot of guys improved their records against other Class 4A guys.”

At 106 pounds, Brandon Montiel was the gold-bracket runner-up, losing in the final. Matthew Storey reached the silver bracket at 113 pounds.

Anthony Trujillo reached the 120-pound gold bracket by beating tough opponents from West Las Vegas, Cobre and Española Valley. He lost to defending state champion Richard Montoya of Robertson in the gold bracket.

Phillip Gonzales, the Eagles’ champion 126-pounder, was held out of the tournament due to an ailing back. Tristen Davis took first place in the silver bracket for the Eagles at 126.

Matthew Lucero won the gold finals at 132 pounds, in what Chaves called the highlight of the tourney for BHS.

Gunner Robinson reached the gold bracket at 138.

Wyatt Robinson reached the gold finals at 145, losing in a final to Ernesto Salvidrez of Capital in a match that Chaves said involved controversial officiating.

Gabe Aleman, the Eagles’ 152-pounder, made it to his silver bracket. Danny Chavez, reached the gold bracket at 160, where he lost to Martinez of Los Lunas.

Dustin Dueñas, at 170, and Matthew Burgueño, at 182, both reached their silver brackets.

David Martinez took fourth in the gold group at 195, and Dominic Martinez went to the silver bracket at 220. The Eagles’ 285-pounder, Diego Garcia, couldn’t compete due to ringworm, but Chaves expects him to be cleared this week. Senior Jeff Kincade filled in, reaching the gold group.

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