With the ceiling lights off and a single light suspended above the mat, the atmosphere leading up to the dual wrestling match between Belen and Los Lunas was as dramatic.
But for the hundreds of fans who showed up at the Belen High School gymnasium on Wednesday, Jan. 8, the match itself did not provide much in the way of drama as the Eagles took 39-0 lead on their way to a final tally of 47-19 against their arch rivals, the Tigers.
“I’m ecstatic with our kids,” said Belen coach Lee Chaves. “Our kids came out with fire.”
Belen took control of the dual from the beginning when Matt Lucero pinned Ty Tembrink in the match of 138 pounders at the 2:29 mark of their match followed by a pin of Los Lunas’ Robert Lopez by Gunner Robinson in the match of 145 pound grapplers to give BHS a quick 12-0 lead.
The Eagles would also get pins from heavyweight Danny Gordon, who pinned the Tigers’ George Trusdale just 58 seconds into their physical match, and Chris Romero, who got the fall against LLHS’ Andrew Salazar in the match of 120 pound wrestlers.
BHS’ Gabe Alarcon also earned a technical fall 19-3 over Kekou Gallegos in the 160-pound match.
“Wrestling is a sport of momentum and as I told (Matt), ‘Get it started and we’ll keep it going,” Chaves said.
The most intense match of the night featured Belen sophomore Nathaniel Martinez and experienced Los Lunas senior Tristan Rasp. The pair of 170-pound grapplers fought to gain the advantage against each other to the cheers of the large crowd.
Martinez, who is in his first season wresting for the Eagles, held off Rasp, who tried to shoot low for the sophomore’s legs throughout.
Martinez, at times, rode out Rasp like a bull rider and kept a advantageous position. Tied 1-1, the two went into an fourth overtime period, where Martinez scored two points on a takedown to win the match.
“When it got to overtime, my arms were dead, my legs were shaking,” Martinez said. “But in my mind, I just said to myself, ‘Push it.’ I knew he was good with his defense and I just had to keep shooting.”
There was a bit of controversy near the end of the night when Belen’s Anthony Trujillo benefited from a pair of stalling calls against Los Lunas’ Miguel Alvarado, transforming a 6-1 lead Alvarado held entering the third period into a an 8-6 win for Trujillo.
“I’d never seen anything like that,” said Los Lunas coach Steve Chavez, who argued strenuously with the referee at the conclusion of the match. “It was unfortunate. I didn’t think he was stalling. I don’t think you should penalize a wrestler like that. It was a tough match that we really wanted to win.”
The Tigers got six points apiece from Roman Cervantes (106), who won by default, and A.J. Sauceda, who finished the evening with a pin of the Eagles’ Chris Robinson at the 1:56 mark of the first period. Michael Freeman, who defeated BHS’ Danny Evans 2-0 in the 113 division to wrap up scoring for Los Lunas.
“We lost some tight matches but they were on that night,” said LLHS coach Steve Chavez. “Belen has kids who have varsity experience. A lot of our guys are puppies. But I thought A.J. came out and tore it up and Michael Freeman did well. I was happy with the effort overall.”
The two teams moved on to wrestle at Moriarty High School’s Pinto Duals on Saturday. Belen took second place in the head-to-head dual meet, falling to defending Class 4A champions Farmington Piedra Vista 43-20. Los Lunas took fifth place with a 59-13 win over host Moriarty.
Valencia traveled to Santa Fe for the Al Salazar Invitational, placing 12th in the 25-team tournament. The News-Bulletin’s round-up of the weekend’s tournament action will be available today at www.news-bulletin.com.
& weekend results
Full listing of Belen-Los Lunas
match results: Page 10A
Full round-up of
weekend tournament action, online at