WEB EXCLUSIVE: Former LLHS wrestler coaches team to third at State

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RIO RANCHO – Former Los Lunas High wrestler Ahren Griego was again on the podium Saturday.

The first-year coach led his Volcano Vista wrestling squad to an impressive third place finish at the Class 5A Wrestling Meet at the Santa Ana Star Center.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: FORMER LOS LUNAS HIGH wrestler Ahren Griego, far right, now head coach for Albuquerque's Volcano Vista HIgh School poses with his team during the Class 5A State Wrestling Meet third-place award ceremony Saturday in Rio Rancho.

Griego’s Hawks finished third with 183 points, just eight points behind second place finishers Rio Grande, which was edged 199-191 by champions Rio Rancho. The two Rio schools tied for first last season.

Volcano Vista finished with ten placers out of a squad of 14 and two champions, both seniors – 182-pounde Nathaniel Sierra and 220-pounder Mike Budick, who finished the season a perfect 43-0.

“It was a great experience,” Griego said just before going up on the podium to accept the green third place trophy. “It was a challenge to keep these guys healthy, motivated and happy. But I think we established something really special.
“They love each other, they love the coaching staff. As long as were coaching with love, I think that’s half the battle,’ he said with a huge smile.

The Hawks were also the most vocal of the 5A schools in attendance, standing along the partition, cheering on their teammates.

“It’s that Volcano Vista school spirit It’s a great school to be a part and I love being a part of that and with these kids,” Griego said.

All told, VVHS finished with ten placers who won seven championship final matches – two champions, five third-place finishers and a trio of grapples who finished in sixth place.

Griego said he was extremely proud of his wrestlers.

“My freshmen stepped up, they beat some great competition – a lot of Rio Grande, Rio Rancho and Cleveland kids,” he said. “It doesn’t say so on paper, but to us we were champions just for getting everyone here and doing what we did.”

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