BHS 2nd at Card Classic

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The Belen wrestling team broke a team scoring record at the Cardinal Classic over the weekend, finishing with 302 points and six placers in the Gold Bracket to take second place in the tournament. They finished just behind Piedra Vista at the 25-team tournament at Robertson High School in Las Vegas, N.M.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: BELEN WRESTLER Dustin Duenas, left, here wrestling an opponent from Silver High earlier this season, finished 4th, helping the Eagles to a 2nd place finish at the Cardinal Classic this past weekend.

138-pounder Matthew Lucero and heavyweight Daniel Gordon both took first, beating out opponents from Piedra Vista and Roswell Goddard respectively to help the Eagles outdistance third place team Cobre, which finished with a final score of 282.

Los Lunas, which did not place any wrestlers in the Gold Bracket but had a pair of wrestlers make some noise in the Silver Bracket, finished in 15th place with 104 points.

Six placers pace Belen

Despite missing wrestlers in the 132-pound and 120-pound divisions, BHS coach Lee Chaves’ Eagles placed six in the Gold Bracket of the Cardinal Classic, which gathered some of the best teams in Class 4A and 3A, including Piedra Vista, Cobre, Capital and host Robertson.

After the seeding round on Friday, a good portion of Belen’s wrestlers moved into Saturday’s Gold Bracket, allowing the Eagles to rack up points.

Piedra Vista sent seven into the Championship round, a big factor in their winning the tournament. But the Panthers only finished 1-6 in first place matches.

Matthew Lucero (138) and Robert Gordon (285) took gold in the Gold Bracket. Lucero beat Piedra Vista’s Ryan Rino 5-3 while Gordon beat Roswell Goddard’s Eathyn Griffin with a pin.

“Those two guys lose to guys on Friday but then beat then on Saturday for the championship,” Chaves said. “They really came up big, in both matches.”

The Eagles landed four in the Consolation round of the Gold Bracket, with Gunner Robinson (145) beating Carlsbad’s Kanyon Fillmore in a major decision 12-4 and Matt Burgueno (182) topping PV’s Alberto Maquez 5-4 in a close, tough match.

“That was a good victory for us,” Chaves said. “We’re really coming together. Our plan of working to get better has really paid off and you could see that at this tournament.”

Also in the Gold Consolation Bracket, BHS’s Dustin Duenas (170) lost a 4-2 decision to Israel Villa of Goddard, while Anthony Trujillo (126) was pulled from the final match, giving Cobre’s Robert Rodriguez a win by forfeit.

“Anthony was a little banged up and he’s wrestled the kid from Cobre a couple of times already so we took the precaution of taking him out,” Chaves said. “He had a great tournament, wrestled really well. We just didn’t want him out there against a guy he’s already seen.”

Belen also finished with a pair of gold medalists in the Silver Bracket, with Rowdy Robinson (106) and David Martinez (195) taking first place finishes while Estevn Chavez (220) took third place. All three faced tough draws Friday and had setbacks, Chaves said, but both came through on Saturday in the Silver Bracket.

Belen faced St. Michael’s of Santa Fe in a dual match on Wednesday and will close the regular season today with another dual match at Santa Fe Capital. The Eagles travel to Gallup next Saturday for the District 6-4A meet before going to Rio Rancho for the Class 4A State Wrestling meet at the Santa Ana Star Center on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 21 and 22.

“I think this team is really starting to wrestle with confidence,” Chaves said. “We’ve been under the radar. But when Los Lunas was ranked No. 2, we beat them. When Deming was No. 2, we beat them. And we’ve done well at some tournaments. But the only tournament that matters is State.”

Los Lunas shorthanded

The Tigers entered the Cardinal Classic as defending champions but were without wrestlers in four weight classes for the weekend, making a repeat very difficult.

“The first day we had some kids who went undefeated,” said LLHS coach Steve Chavez, talking about A.J. Sauceda (132) and Miguel Alvarado (126), both of whom moved on to the Gold Bracket on Saturday. But missing wrestlers, most notably state contenders Roman Cervantes (106), Tristan Rasp (170) and Darron Gonzales (195), put the Tigers in a hole from the outset.

“We had some highs and some lows,” Chavez said. “All our guys in the Gold Bracket got eliminated at around the same time. We finished with a bunch of kids in the Silver (Bracket).

“I was hoping that we’d win some of the closer matches that we ended up losing, but what can you do?”

The Tigers are off this weekend and next week, and will rest and begin to prepare for the district meet in Gallup.

Chavez said that he’ll know more about the composition of his team, and whether wrestlers will be back from their injuries, sometime next week.

“Once we get through this week and have had a chance to work and rest, then we’ll know,” he said. “We hope to get them back. If not, some other kids will have to step up.”