BHS, VHS win going into district

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The Belen and Valencia wrestling teams finished the final week of the 2013-14 high school wrestling season on a high note.

The Eagles swept a pair of dual matches against Santa Fe schools last Wednesday and Thursday, while the Jaguars ended with their highest finish in a tournament this season on Saturday.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: BELEN HEAVYWEIGHT DANIEL GORDON, left, is one of the wrestlers the Eagles will be counting on to place at this weekend’s district wrestling meet.

BHS, VHS and Los Lunas will now all travel to Gallup on Saturday for the District 6-4A wrestling meet at Gallup High School.

The Jaguars traveled to Los Alamos High School last Saturday to take part in the Hilltoppers’ 12-team Bryan Sanchez Memorial Invitational and came away with a third place finish.

Valencia had five placers, led by first place finisher Albert Sanchez (145) to come in third behind top-placing Las Vegas Robertson and host Los Alamos, which placed second.

“We wrestled very well,” said coach Lorenzo Carrillo. “Robertson was tough, but we went toe to toe with them. The guys bounced back a bit from the last few weeks.”

Augmenting Sanchez’ first place performance were Joseph Barela (126), who finished in second place, and a trio of third place finishers – Joey Sanchez (106), Urbano Gonzalez (170) and Jesus Tapia (182).

On the junior varsity side, Valencia also collected one bronze medal as 106-pounder Jon Diego Archuleta took second place.

“It was a good boost for us, a nice confidence builder going into (the district tournament),” Carrillo said. “We’re still working hard but now we’re looking forward to this weekend with a much better attitude.”

“Every one is a little more psyched,” he concluded.

Valencia goes into this weekend’s district tournament without a full squad, missing wrestlers at 195 pounds and the heavyweight division.

But with the five placers at the Sanchez Invitational augmenting the likes of Nate Nash (152), Jacob Pino (120) and Isaac Lewis (228), Carrillo said he thinks his team will surprise some people at the district meet Saturday and at the state meet the week after, if they can qualify.

“We’re looking forward to having Nate back in the line up,” Carrillo said. “He told me today he’s ready to get back on the mat. And Albert, I think, is going to be a dark horse. If anyone is ready for these tournaments, it’s Albert.”

Carrillo said Lewis could be “a big surprise” in the upcoming meets as well.

“He lost to some state placers from Española and Robertson this weekend but he wrestled extremely well. He’s learning and he’s young,” the coach said. “He’s only a sophomore. He didn’t wrestle juniors or middle school. I think he’s another dark horse.”

The Eagles traveled mid-week last week to the Capital City and hit with the same force as the winter blast that rolled into town along with them.

Belen beat Class 3A state contenders St. Mike’s 49-28 on Wednesday night then beat Capital the next night by the same 49-28 score.

BHS coach Lee Chaves said he was very happy with his team’s performances to finish the regular season.

“Those are two really good teams we beat, so this was actually a very good way of prepping for the district tournament,” Chaves said.

The match against Capital had the potential of being a showdown between two teams looking to unseat four-time defending Class 4A champions Piedra Vista of Farmington.

But outside of the northern Jaguars four top wrestlers, including defending state champions Jose Tapia (113) and Isaiah Anaya (145), Capital was unable to take any other bouts as Belen was able to rack up points behind solid performances from heavyweight Daniel Gordon as well as Estavan Chavez (228), Dustin Duenas (178) and Matthew Lucero (138), among others.

“They won five matches, we won nine,” Chaves said. “We were happy with how it went. There were no surprises. On paper, they looked like a much better team than us before the season started.”

Chaves said his team, which had a rough start to the season, has gelled and now is looking to peak right as the state meet is approaching.

“No one has really been talking about us, we’ve been flying under the radar,” he said. “But now people are realizing we’re for real. But we know how dangerous we are.”

Still Chaves said the important thing this weekend, team-wise, is for the Eagles to qualify wrestlers in all 14 weight divisions for the state championship meet next weekend in Rio Rancho.

“I’d rather qualify all 14 and take second in district than not qualify 14,” Chaves said. “It sounds good being district champ, but last year we only qualified 11 and it hurt us. It was the difference between Los Lunas finishing second and us finishing third. They had two more guys and beat us by five points.”

“But I feel confident we’ll get it done,” Chaves said.

Los Lunas was idle last week, taking advantage of the time to get inured wrestlers healed up and get some others ready to wrestle in their respective weight classes, said coach Steve Chavez.

Among the injured is 106-pounder Roman Cervantes, who was a favorite to place in both district and state before getting injured a few weeks ago.

Chavez wouldn’t discuss the specifics of Cervantes’ injuries but said the sophomore is “doing OK.”

“We’ll see how he is this week,” Chavez said. “We’re playing it by ear, but he’s doing a lot better. We’re trying to get the lineup together. We’re hoping to get a few other guys released (medically) by the end of the week and be ready to go.”

“We want to have everybody healthy for state, that’s our main goal,” Chevez said.

Chavez said that the week off also helped the team find wrestlers in the middle weight classes, a weak spot during the season for the Tigers.

While Belen and Los Lunas are looked at by many as favorites this weekend, Chavez and his two fellow Valencia County coaches both pointed to Miyamura of Gallup as a potential spoiler. Both the LLHS and BHS coaches also pointed to Valencia as another team that could upset the apple cart this weekend.

“They’ve got some good individuals to reckon with,” Chavez said of Valencia. “Miyamura had a few state placers too, so they’ll be tough and they might sneak up and beat everyone up and win district.”