The Roswell High and Goddard wrestling teams turned in stellar performances at the individual District 3-4 (5A) tourney held on Saturday at Roswell High. The host Coyotes saw 12 grapplers advance to the prestigious state tournament next week, while the short-handed Rockets qualified five.
The Coyotes used a great semi-final round to place nine into the championship and saw Travis Alarcon at 145, Gabriel Najar at 182, Matthew Martinez at 195, and Christian Sanchez at 220 all take district titles.
The first-place finish by Martinez was unexpected as the other three were top-seeded and dominated their respective weight classes. Martinez won a close 3-1 decision in the semi’s and surprised everyone with a first period fall over top-seeded Nicholas Soledad of Deming to take the championship.
“I was super proud of Matty Martinez to go out there and get a win,” stated Coyote coach Jesse Boggs. “It’s huge. He just made varsity last week so he is just now adjusting to that varsity style and to be district champ is good.”
Alarcon used two dominating technical falls to win his weight class and should be garner a top-four seed at state with an 18-6 record.
Najar pinned Devin Brown with 3 seconds remaining in the first round to repeat as district champion. Najar will probably be the top seed at the state tourney as he is the prohibitive favorite to take the 182 crown next week. Najar is 28-2 and has not lost to any 5A wrestlers.
Sanchez pinned his opponent in the first period in the finals to wrap up a 34-0 record heading into the state tourney. Sanchez was named the district wrestler of the year and will look to repeat as state champion next week.
Also getting into the finals for the Coyotes were Jaymon Cherinko at 113, Nathaniel Sanchez – 132, Kayden Graham –138, JoeAngel Samora – 170, and Eddie Macias at 285. All five lost tough matches in the finals to finish as runner-ups, but all will be looking to medal next week in state.
“It was a good solid win for Najar,” said Boggs.”Real proud of the guys, only one loss that really stings, but, overall, a good job.”
He continued, “that’s what I love about this year’s state (tournament)…some of the weights are pretty solidified, but really, it’s wide open. If our guys put in this last week of hard work and go in with an attitude of ‘we can do it’ then they are going to come home with some hardware that is unexpected. We hope to really shock people again just like we did last year.”
The Rockets fielded a team of only six wrestlers and qualified five of them for the state meet.
“They looked a lot better this week,” stated a pleased Rocket coach Nick Archuleta. “They wrestled harder and they wrestled smarter and that’s what we wanted. So, hopefully, they can bring that to state and take another step forward.”
The top finishers were Damian Valdez at 120 and Jeremiah Esparza at 160 who both finished 2nd in their respective weight classes.
Valdez fell behind early but managed to come back and pin Felix Arias of Alamogordo in the semi-finals before falling to top-seeded Iverson Ruiz of Deming in the finals. “He’s actually finally seeing what he has to do,” said Archuleta of Valdez’ showing. “He could be a little more aggressive but we’ll get him there this week.”
Esparza decisioned Xavier Hernandez of Roswell High 5-0 in the semi-finals to advance to the finals where he fell to top-seeded Marco Martinez of Deming 3-2. It is the second time Esparza has lost to Martinez (with a record of 24-3) by identical 3-2 scores. Unseeded Hernandez came back to claim 3rd place and earn a trip to state as well.
Senior Austin Langley took third place at 152 as he hung on for a 2-1 decision in the opening round, scored a quick pin in the consolation round, and wrapped up the tourney with a 4-2 win over his Chaparral opponent who had pinned him last week in the district duals.
Jeremiah Garcia at 145 and freshman Fernando Rubio at 170 both earned fourth place finishes and advanced to the state tourney.
“It’s going to be a dog fight,” stated an optimistic Archuleta of the upcoming state tourney. “Regardless of what we’ve got, anything can happen up there. We’re just going to get it into our guy’s heads that they are going to give 100% or more.”
Both squads open wrestling at 9 a.m. on Friday morning at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.