Prep Wrestling: VHS grappler fulfils her wish at state

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Valencia wrestler LoriAnn Archuleta fulfilled a wish that was born three years ago when she hit the mat at the Santa Ana Star Center last Friday morning.

The senior, who wrestles for the Jaguars varsity squad in the 113-pound division, began wrestling for the VHS junior varsity team as a 106-pounder her sophomore year. When the varsity 106 got injured that season, she took his place.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: VALENCIA SENIOR GUARD Josh Doyle, left, looks to drive against Los Lunas senior Sasha Gonzales during the two taem’s semifinal game in the Boys District 6-4A Tournament Thursday night at Los Lunas High School. The Tigers 77-52 win over the Jaguars earned them the chance to host the championship game of the district tourney on Saturday night.

Two Saturdays ago, Archuleta fulfilled one of her goals by finishing fourth at the District 6-4A Wrestling Meet in Gallup. That placement got her a ticket to the big dance, the Class 4A Wrestling Meet in Rio Rancho.

Archuleta, who said she has played sports year-round since the seventh grade and participated in basketball, soccer and track while at Valencia High School, said wrestling is in her family — her younger brother Jon Diego, wrestles for VHS, and her cousin, Carlos Montaño, was a state champion at 132-pounds for Valencia two seasons ago while Carlos’ dad, Phillip Montaño, also wrestled in high school was her first coach in the sport.

It was Carlos who first talked to her about joining VHS’ team and convinced her parents, Edward and Diane Archuleta of Peralta, to let her try out.

“One night we were at my house talking and he convinced my parents to let me join,” LoriAnn said. “I thought it was cool and tried it out.”

Once she got into the wrestling room, LoriAnn said she was hooked. And she quickly realized that to do well that she would have to become a student of the sport.

“I saw how good these guys were, a lot of them had been wrestling for so long,” she said. “I thought I had to learn right away to keep up with them.”

VHS coach Lorenzo Carrillo, who worked with a pair of top junior female wrestlers in Belen early in his coaching career, said LoriAnn’s skills and technique are her biggest assets on the mat.

“One thing I noticed with female wrestlers is they’re a little bit smarter (about wrestling) and learn a lot quicker,” Carrillo said. “The strength issue catches up with them and what we have to focus on is technique. That’s what we’ve done with LoriAnn. And it paid off at district. LoriAnn is very good with her technique.”

Female wrestlers have become much more commonplace in recent years, said Carrillo.

He also emphasized that except for separate changing rooms, LoriAnn is treated the same as any other Jaguar wrestler.

“She’s expected to work out as hard as any one else,” he said, “and actually LoriAnn is one of the most dedicated wrestlers we have in the room. She never misses practice and always works hard.”

Archuleta said she has always just wanted to improve herself, day-by-day.

“That’s why I never missed practice, because I didn’t want to miss anything and they’ll know more than me,” she said. “It’s hard for me as a girl. I don’t have as much (upper body) strength as them so I have to know more than them.”

Archuleta said her style is leg riding, which emphasizes a wrestler’s use of their hips and is a very effective technique.

“I don’t really like to take people down because I always end up getting reversed,” said LoriAnn. “If I can get in their legs, it’s good. That’s pretty much how I won district.”

At the district meet, Archuleta lost her first match and had to battle back through the consolation bracket to earn her way to the state meet.

A final match against a Miyamura wrestler stood between her and state, but Archuleta was able to fight her way to a win and a berth at state.

“It was nerve wracking,” she said. “I had worked hard all three years and wanted to make it to state. It was exciting. It’s unexplainable. All three years … my sophomore year I went to watch state. I’d never been there and I was just thinking I want to wrestle here some day. Knowing I get to do that in my senior year is pretty cool.”

Though she’s been athletic all her life and enjoys the other sports she’s been involved in, Archuleta said wrestling is “at the very top” of her list.

“It’s more of an individual experience,” she said. “You get to be on a team, but it’s a different feeling. I like the energy people give off. There’s more to it. It’s one-on-one.”

Now that’s she’s close to graduating, Archuleta said she is looking into wrestling scholarships and would readily accept one if it’s offered. She’s even thought about continuing on with mixed-martial arts.

“MMA interests me, but I’m not to sure about it,” she said. “I looks like would be a fun thing to do.”

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