Total Los Lunas team effort brings home runner-up trophy

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After winning the District 6-4A wrestling championship last week, Los Lunas coach Steve Chavez knew he had one of the best wrestling teams in the state.

Mike Stearns-News-Bulletin photo: Tiger Senior wrestler Ricardo Alvarado struggles to get out of a leg lock from Piedra Vista’s Jacob Palmgren at the Class 4A state wrestling championships at the Santa Ana Star Center on Saturday. Alvarado, along with three other Los Lunas wrestlers, finished second in his weight class to help the Tigers finish second to Peidra Vista.

But looming at the Class 4A championships was Piedra Vista with several transfer wrestlers on their roster. The Panthers won the team trophy with 314.5 points.

The Tigers could not overcome Piedra Vista, but Chavez was excited about Los Lunas capturing the red trophy for second place. Los Lunas (176.5) finished ahead of Belen (169), Deming (156) and Los Alamos (137.5).

“We are going to do it with what we have here,” said Chavez of finishing just a few points ahead of Belen. “Everyone gave just enough points for us to finish second. It is a big accomplishment.”

The Tigers had four wrestlers challenge for an individual state title, but did not win in any one weight class.

“None of our kids were seeded No. 1,” said Chavez. “Our kids just gave a complete effort. I am so happy with all of them.”

Mark Hussey, at 182 pounds, had the best chance of winning a state title. He took Brian Guyer of Los Alamos to sudden death in four overtimes. Neither wrestler was able to score a point in three overtimes after the score was tied 5-5 at the end of three two-minute periods.

Guyer did not allow Hussey to escape in the seventh overtime and was declared the winner.

“We chose the bottom position because we just thought we could escape,” said Chavez of the final overtime. “It was a great effort by Mark.”

Isaac Parra faced Timothy Sanchez of St. Pius in the 195-pound weight class and lost a close decision, 3-1. Parra had a late takedown go against him in the final period.

“He just faced a great wrestler,” said Chavez. “Isaac gave it all he could.”

Chavez had great praise for the effort Ricardo Alvarado gave against Piedra Vista’s Jacob Palmgren, a transfer student from Colorado.

Alvarado held the Palmgren scoreless in the first period before being pinned with 16 seconds left in the second.

“He was the most spirited and dedicated kid,” said Chavez, calling his senior the MVP. “He wrestled a kid out of Colorado that is one of the best wrestlers in the nation.”

Eddie Canizo, at 152 pounds, pulled one of the upsets of the tournament on the way to finishing second to Piedra Vista’s Ryan Rino. In the first match, he scored a major decision over previously-undefeated David Padron of Deming, 9-3.

“He beat the number one seed from Deming,” said Chavez. “That kid was 34-0. We had some upsets because it was a total team commitment.”

Chavez noted that his team overcame some obstacles during the season and at the tournament.

A.J. Saucedo suffered an injury to his knee in the 132-pound semifinal against Piedra Vista’s Anthony Juckes. He had to retire and forfeited two consolation matches to finish sixth.

“He was right there. His performance was outstanding,” said Chavez of Saucedo. “We lost out on those points because he was heading for at least a third.”

Chuck Trusdell finished fifth at 220 pounds and Miguel Alvarado was fifth at 126.

The biggest disappointment for Chavez came in the 160-pound class when Mikey Martinez was disqualified in the semifinal for throwing a punch to the face of his opponent. Martinez then lost focus, according to Chavez, in the two consolation matches and finished sixth.

“He let us down. He lost his composure. In the championship rounds, he lost and he just seemed to lose control,” said Chavez. “He became an individual wrestler instead of getting points for the team. Sometimes, you have to go try and win one for the team.”

Also scoring points, but not placing higher than sixth for a medal, was Roman Cervantes (106 pounds), Andrew Salazar (113), Gabriel Alvarado (138) and Ty Tenbrink (145).

“We were kind of deep in certain weight classes. You go through some challenges,” said Chavez. “The season was kind of an experiment. It was still even in December not knowing who I would get from football.”


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