Carrillo takes over grapplers at Valencia High

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In his 23 years of coaching, Lorenzo Carrillo said he has coached wrestling at every level there is — junior, middle school and high school.

What he's never done is replace a legend.

That's the challenge the 55-year-old, first-year coach of Valencia High School has in front of him as he takes over the Jaguars' program from legendary coach Tom Torres. Torres stepped down this this spring after seven years at VHS, which was preceded by a 30-year stint at Los Lunas High School.

"Tom Torres is, of course, an institution in our valley," Carrillo said recently. "He was coaching at Los Lunas when I was wrestling at Belen in the 70s."

Carrillo said he read of Torres' retirment in the newspaper, prompting him to look into the job.

"I felt I had to apply," he said. "To be only the second coach at Valencia High, it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up."

Carrillo, a Belen native and two-time state champion at Belen High, comes to VHS after brief spell away from coaching. After coaching in Michigan in the 80s, Carrillo returned to New Mexico and was an assistant coach at his alma mater from 2000 to 2007 before taking over the program at St. Pius X from 2007 to 2010.

"One of the interesting things about my career at St. Pius was that I was able to bring the first two individual state champions they'd had," Carrillo said.

Taking over the Jaguars wrestling program has been a challenge, Carrillo said.

"I have a little different style than Coach Torres," he said "It'll take the kids some time to learn what I'm after."

What Carrillo is hoping to bring is more intensity to the wrestling room, something he said involves the Jags to be more tactical in their approach — as well as more aggressive.

"I'm trying to carry that over and bring a different dimension to the room," Carrillo said. "I'm happy with the way things are shaping out so far."

The new coach knows he has a large challenge.

"I have some big shoes to fill," he said. "We'll see how the season turns out. It's quite an undertaking, but I'm looking forward to it."