Eagles, Tigers and Jags finish 1-2-3 at district

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Saturday’s District 6-4A Championship Wrestling Meet at Gallup High School was a complete sweep for Valencia County schools, as well as a resounding triumph for Belen, which beat out arch rivals Los Lunas 219.5 to 173.5 to claim first place in the six-team event..

The Eagles qualified all 14 wrestlers for this weekend’s Class 4A State Wrestling Meet and placed nine wrestlers in championship matches, compared to 13 qualifiers and six wrestlers competing for first place for the Tigers.

Kenn Rodriguez- News-Bulletin photo: THE BELEN WRESTLING TEAM, shown here before their dual match against Los Lunas in January, placed first at the District 6-4A Wrestling meet on Saturday in Gallup. The Eagles qualified all 14 wrestlers for this weekend’s Class 4A State Wrestling Meet in Rio Rancho.

“I thought we really wrestled well, got both of our goals, the most important getting all 14 wrestlers qualified,” said BHS coach Lee Chaves. “Winning district was great. Now we’ll go into state with a little momentum. We’re wrestling really tough.”

Valencia came in third, edging out Gallup Miyamura 140-131. The Jaguars only got two wrestlers in championship matches compared to seven for the Patriots. But the Jaguars’ six third-place wins and 11 state qualifiers gave VHS the slight edge it needed to take third.

Grants finished fifth with 74 points and host Gallup came in sixth with 57 points.

The Eagles nine grapplers competing for first place was the most of any team in the tournament, but having all 14 wrestlers in competition for a top-four spot was Belen’s ace in the whole as they took the title with a relatively comfortable margin, despite suffering a few upsets.

Chris Romero (120), Matt Lucero (138), Gabe Aleman (160), David Martinez (195) and heavyweight Danny Gordon all took titles, with Romero defeating Los Lunas’ Antonio Alvarado.

“The guys finished about where we expected; there really were no surprises,” Chaves said. “Some guys had better matches than others. Our 160, David Martinez, was someone that not a lot of people knew about going into the tournament. He’s probably the guy people were most surprised by, but we knew he was going to win it.”

The Eagles’ Danny Evans (113), Anthony Trujillo (126), Josh Garcia (152) and Matt Burgueno (182) took second-place finishes, while Rowdy Robinson (106) and Dustin Duenas (170) placed third, and Jerry Robinson (132) took a fourth-place finish.

Chaves said the fact that his team had the most finalists as well as qualifying 14 for this weekend’s state tournament were good signs going into the state championship matches.

“To be a good team need you studs, guys who make the finals,” he said. “You don’t see our depth at district, but at state you’ll see the depth.

“We have a lot of guys who maybe aren’t state champs yet, but who are going to place. I know I wouldn’t want to draw an unseeded Belen wrestler this weekend,” he said.

The Tigers finished district with three champions, all from the lower weight divisions — A.J. Sauceda (132), Samuel Gurule (113) and Miguel Alvarado (126). Los Lunas also had three second-place finishers, Antonio Alvarado (120), Tristin Rasp (170) and Roman Cervantes (106), who was coming back from an unspecified injury that kept him off the mats for nearly three weeks.

“We did real well and some guys really over-achieved and maxed themselves out as much as they could on points,” said LLHS coach Steve Chavez. “Miguel had lost to (Belen’s Anthony Trujillo) twice this season, so that was a nice win.”

Chavez said Cervantes and 195-pounder Darron Gallegos, who was also coming off an injury and placed third in his division, showed a lot of grit in coming back.

“Roman wrestled tough all day and Darron showed us a lot, especially for a guy who’s a first year wrestler,” Chavez said. “It was nice getting a lot of points from a bunch of different kids. There were some real wars out there.”

Along with Gallegos, 152-pounder Chris Gallegos also took third. Los Lunas finished with five fourth place finishes, the most of any squad — Kekoa Gallegos (160), Gerald Sanchez (182), Roberto Lowe (138), Ty Tembrink (145) and heavyweight George Trusdell.

The Jaguars only had two wrestlers in title matches but landed nine grapplers in third-place matches, garnering six consolation championship wins to edge out the Patriots for third place.

182-pounder Nate Nash, who has battled injuries all season long, was the lone district champion, defeating Belen’s Josh Garcia for the title. Albert Sanchez (145) fell to Miyamura’s A.J. Stakovich in his title match.

“There were some really great matches,” said VHS coach Lorenzo Carrillo. “Albert’s match was one of the best of the day. Overall the second and third rounds went extremely well for us. We won some matches we weren’t supposed to win. Getting six in third place was a big accomplishment.”

Among VHS’s third place finishers were Jacob Pino (120), Joseph Barela (126), Manuel Rascon (132), Randall Gomez (138), Jesus Tapia (182) and Isaac Lewis (220).

Carrillo also had high praise for senior LoriAnn Archuleta, who battled her way through the consolation bracket to a fourth-place finish, making her one of the few female wrestlers to qualify for state this season.

“We’re pretty excited about (her qualifying),” Carrillo said. “She’s been working hard the last month. She’s a very skilled wrestler and she showed that at district. We’re hoping for good things for her at state.”

Joining Archuleta in fourth place were Joey Sanchez (106) and Urbano Gonzalez (170).

The Jags qualified 11 of their 12 wrestlers for state at the district meet, which is impressive considering that the team has gone without grapplers at the 195 and 285 weight divisions for much of the season.

All three coaches said three-time state champions Piedra Vista are the prohibitive favorites at the state tournament this weekend. The Panthers won their District 2-4A meet by placing all 14 wrestlers in the championship finals on Saturday.

Along with the three Valencia County schools, Deming and Santa Fe Capital are considered favorites to place.