DEMING – Seven teams were legitimate contenders for the Class 5A State Wrestling Championship, held on Feb. 16-17 in Rio Rancho, NM, and Deming High School was among the seven, according to DHS Coach Phillip Almanza. A sixth-place finish did not sit well with Coach Almanza and the Wildcats but he told the Headlight how tough he thought the tournament bracket was for team and individual titles.
“This is not where we wanted to be, of course. But if those teams were to wrestle today, there would be a different winner,” Almanza said.
Aztec claimed the state team title with 194 points. Los Lunas finished runner-up at 185.5 and Belen was third at 151 team points. Valencia scored 135, Farmington was at 128.5 and Deming totaled 127.
Sophomore Daniel Perez led seven Wildcat wrestlers who placed during the two-day event at the Santa Star Center. Perez finished runner-up at 138 pounds with a 3-1 record.
“Daniel wrestled far beyond his capabilities to reach the championship match and got beat by a well-seasoned senior,” Coach Almanza said. Perez finished his sophomore season at 40-11.
Sophomore Frankie Lucero took third at 113 pounds. Lucero was seeded No. 5 in his weight class and was able to maneuver through the bracket by upsetting the No. 4 and 2 seeds on his way to the semi-finals. “Frankie never backs up in a match,” Coach Almanza stated. “He’s aggressive on the mats and is always moving forward.”
Lucero finished the year at 37-7.
Freshman Jacob Mendoza placed third in the 126-pound limit. A product of the Deming Youth Wrestling Club program, Mendoza posted a -4-1 record at state and finished the season 30-5.
Individual won-loss record may seem gaudy to some high school wrestling aficionados, but the records did not serve the team well when it came to seeding at the state tournament.
“We needed to step up and meet the challenge of performing on the big stage of the state tournament, but there is are three degrees that come into play in order to be successful,” Coach Almanza said. “…Dedication, discipline and luck. The luck of the draw played a role in the big picture”
Senior 152-pounder Rylan Larko placed third in his final Wildcat match. “This was easily the toughest weight class at state,” Coach Almanza stated. Rylan has been our stud throughout his career and he beat four state placers to get to third place.”
Larko finished 4-1 in his bracket and 32-6 overall on the season.
Senior Alex Rodriguez was unseeded and finished fifth in his 182-pound weight class with a 3-2 record. “We did not expect Alex to place,” Coach Almanza said. “He left it all out on the mats and pulled some valuable back points for the team.”
Rodriguez ended his senior season at 32-19.
Senior Isaac Acosta placed third in his final state tournament appearance. He finished 4-1 in the heavyweight division and was 34-8 overall. “I will miss Isaac’s work ethic and his consistency,” Coach Almanza said.
Junior Manuel Carrasco Jr. was sixth at 132 pounds, despite aggravating a nagging shoulder injury. “His toughness picked up team points that we needed,” Coach Almanza said. Carrasco made it to the semi-final match before his shoulder gave out. He would finish 13-5 on the season.
The rest of the Wildcat wrestlers competed well at state, according to coach Almanza. Here is a list of those who did not place.
Eighth grader Davy May wrestled to a 35-7 record at 106 poundsNickolas Soledad finished 3-3 at 195 poundsIverson Ruiz was 17-12 at 120 poundsSenior Dominic Franco was 18-18 at 145 poundsMarko Martinez was 27-7 at 160 pounds
“This program will return four state placers for next season. Davy may will be wiser and stronger and we hope to get a healthy Brandon Baca back. All told, we can plan on eight veteran wrestlers who have been to state,” Coach Almanza noted.
“My job now is to unify the success we have going in the youth program and at Red Mountain Middle School, with our Wildcat program here at the high School. The plan to have all three program on the same page.”
Bill Armendariz can be reached at 575-546-2611 (ext. 2606) or firstname.lastname@example.org.