Second Wind: Belen oulasts Deming for 2nd at State Wrestling

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For a few agonizing seconds during his match Saturday night, Belen’s Danny Gordon’s mind raced as his opponent, Juan Rodriguez of Deming, swung him into a reverse and nearly pinned him during their championship bout in the 285-pound division of the Class 4A Wrestling Meet.

But Gordon was able to do what many heavyweights cannot. The junior was able to get out from Rodriguez’ bulk and instead pinned the Deming senior, claiming the heavyweight title for himself and helping his team claim the red second-place trophy at the two-day tournament.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: BELEN HEAVYWEIGHT Danny Gordon celebrates his win in the championship finals of the Class 4A State Wrestling Meet Saturday. Gordon was the Eagles’ lone gold medalist as the Eagles took second place to four-time champions Piedra Vista.

“He had my arm and rolled me but I wasn’t going to let him pin me,” said Gordon. “I looked at the score and I knew I had to do something.”

Gordon’s bout mirrored the Belen team’s fight with the Wildcats for the runner-up spot on Saturday. Deming entered the day in second place with a 2 1/2 point lead over the third-place Eagles.

But Belen won several key matches to beat the Wildcats 178-153 for second, claiming its second runner-up award in three years. Piedra Vista claimed its fourth title in four years with a score of 323.5.

Los Lunas, which claimed the red runners-up trophy last season, finished 11th with 74 points after holding steady in the top 10 for much of Saturday, while Valencia finished 18th with 49.5 points.

The Eagles entered Saturday with only six wrestlers in the quarterfinals of the 4A championship bracket, and that number was winnowed down to two by the time the championship matches rolled around — Gordon and 138-pounder Matt Lucero.

Lucero led early on points early on in his match against Piedra Vista’s Ryan Rino, but fell when he was suddenly pinned by the Panther at the 3:40 mark of the match.

“I just got caught, nothing more nothing less,” said Lucero. “(Second place) is bittersweet. (But) it feels good to help the team, but I’m shooting for next year. We only lose one senior, PV loses four. So we’ll be back,” he said.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: MATTHEW LUCERO, of Belen, top, battles Piedra Vista’s Ryan Rino during the championship match of the 138-pound division Saturday at the Class 4A State Wrestling meet.

Belen benefited from getting seven wrestlers through the consolation bracket, winding up with one wrestler vying for third place and six vying for fifth place.

All told, the Eagles picked up wins in the fifth-place matches from Danny Evans (113), who pinned Ryan Larko of Deming at the 2:31 mark; Chris Romero (120), who beat Goddard’s Dillon Lincon 7-3; Gunner Robinson (145), who defeated Deming’s Chris Salcido 9-7; and David Martinez (190), who decisioned Nick Varley of Piedra Vista 4-3 in a close match.

Estevan Chavez (220) and Jerry Robinson (132) both fell in their fifth-place matches, as did Anthony Trujillo (126) in his third-place match. But the trio of grapplers battled their way through the consolation bracket, piling up wins that helped the Eagles score the points to finish second.

“It’s like we said all year long, we’re a total team,” said BHS coach Lee Chaves. “We had guys come through today who we weren’t counting on. We had a bad Friday, but today they came through.”

The Tigers managed to get five wrestlers into Saturday’s quarterfinals, but found themselves shutout of the championship bracket by day’s end. All told, Los Lunas landed two wrestlers, Roman Cervantes (106) and A.J. Saucedo (132) in third-place matches, and one, Miguel Alvarado (126).

Alvarado, a senior, posted a win with a 6-2 decision over Joseph Barela of crosstown rivals Valencia. But Cervantes and Saucedo both fell in the matches — Cervantes in a close 5-4 decision to Santa Fe’s Ivan Marquez and Saucedo by pin fall to Deming’s Mikey Hernandez at the 3:53 mark.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: LOS LUNAS’ 106-pounder Roman Cervantes, left, positions himself against Santa Fe’s Ivan Martinez in the third-place match Saturday afternoon.

“I feel good about the place I took. I’ll come back next year and hopefully be a state champ,” Saucedo said. “State tournament is a lot tougher, it’s the best of the best. As a team, we did decent. We’re still real young.”

Despite the not getting more of his wrestlers through the consolation bracket, LLHS coach Steve Chavez said he was satisfied with his team’s effort on Saturday.

“It was a challenging year; we had our ups and downs,” said Chavez. “But I’m happy with our performance. It would have been nice to get somebody in the finals. Roman, A.J., Miguel and Antonio did well. We’re rebuilding, so it takes time. We’ll be back.”

The Jaguars only managed to put a pair of wrestlers into the consolation bracket finals, but neither earned a win.

Nate Nash (152) was game against Aztec’s Royal Yazzie, but fell 12-2, while Barela was likewise vanquished despite a game effort by Alvarado of Los Lunas.

“I just felt like I didn’t do enough. He was always one step ahead,” Nash said. “It was a long road. We worked hard all year. I’m proud of my team. Next year, we’ll place higher.”

Two more Valencia grapplers were eliminated by county foes — Manuel Rascon (132), who was eliminated in round four of the consolation round by Belen’s Jerry Robinson; and Randall Gomez (138), who was decisioned by Robert Lowe of Los Lunas.

Senior LoriAnn Archuleta, the sole female wrestler in Class 4A, made her way to the fourth consolation round, picking up a victory over Ken Cheromiah of Gallup before losing by pin fall to Centennial’s Ben Borren.

“We were holding mid-team both days and we were really happy about that,” VHS coach Lorenzo Carrillo. “I’m proud of the team. We could have folded. We started with seven this morning and got whittled down to two. But we took some medals home.

“We have a lot of building to do and I think the kids learned a lot this weekend and see how much work there is left to do,” he said.