One of the hardest things to do in sports is to replace a legendary coach, especially if he is still around coaching. Goddard has a good problem in that it has a new wrestling coach in Nick Archuleta, who is in his second year after taking over for Jamie Martinez. Martinez retired as the wrestling coach after 30 years to ask questions and give advice if need be.
In today’s society, people want instant, right now — instant mashed potatoes, instant money and in sports, instant success. Some of the folks were so used to the wrestling program being a staple in the district and at the state for championships, that they forget that Martinez wasn’t an instant success his first five years as the wrestling coach. They forget that it took him time to develop his junior program, much like Archuleta is doing now.
“I think he’s doing well,” former Goddard wrestling coach Martinez said. “He is struggling and getting experience. I think he is going in the right direction. He can’t compare himself to me and what I’ve done. I told him to be himself and believe in what he’s doing. You’re (Archuleta) going to make mistakes and last year was a learning experience.”
In his second year, Archuleta’s team is very young with only two seniors on the team in Seth Diaz, who wrestles at 182 pounds and Austin Langley who wrestles at 152 pounds. Both athletes were one win away from placing at state last year.
Fernando Rubio is a returning veteran of the mat. Nate Stone came out but was injured and is now the team manager until he recovers. Two other football players, Drew Keelin and Tanner Boyd are both freshmen that have come out for the team.
“Rubio is going to do well,” Archuleta said. “He (Rubio) came out pretty strong, he’s going to do well.”
Another problem for the Rockets’ wrestling team is that they lose matches because they do not have enough wrestlers to come out for the team. One of the main problems in following Martinez is the numbers of athletes that turn out to wrestle. Right now on the team, there are some people injured and a manager, but the team has 16 guys on it and only eight wrestlers on varsity.
Archuleta believes this year is going a lot better than last year, if nothing more, that he has finally gotten a handle on the paperwork. Archuleta has learned what is most important to cover in a practice, instead of what he thinks his team needs to work on.
“I’m trying to utilize my practice time,” Archuleta said. “I want my team to learn and get a good workout in as well. That’s why I wish … I have a lot of coach Martinez’s practices in my head, but he ran them so smoothly and effectively. I wish I could have paid more attention to that so that I can make a more effective practice.”
One of the key lessons that Archuleta learned from Martinez while working for him for four years was to be patient. Archuleta is trying to pass those qualities on to his team. Not one to shy away from advice, Archuleta still reaches out to Martinez and picks his brain about strategy or how he would handle certain situations.
One of the reasons why Martinez recommended Archuleta for the job was that he felt it takes an individual that has wrestled, and from there, you can build. Martinez started that way as well.
“Nick (Archuleta) has a great an attitude,” Martinez said. “That’s what he needs, some of the things he is learning about. It is harder for him — since he’s not in a school setting — to get the support he needs, but that is getting better for him, as well.”
The thing Martinez had as a wrestling coach was time to develop his own program. His numbers were sparse in the beginning, but he had some good assistants running his junior program and they turned things around for him. It allowed him to bring up the eighth-graders and work with them when they were ready.
“The thing I like about Nick (Archuleta) is he has a good mind,” Martinez said. “He wants to learn, and he has some good guys running his junior program. He is basically starting over — so the struggles are going to be there. It’s not the coaching that kills coaches but the other stuff — dealing with grades, paperwork, parents.”
Archuleta feels it was the right time to take over the program — because of the youth, it will only get better in the future. Noting that if his team sticks with it and continually progresses, that by the time they are juniors and seniors, Goddard wrestling will be a force to reckon with again.
Junior Julian Quintero has impressed Archuleta with his smarts and how he’s a technical wrestler.
“He’s a very smart kid,” Archuleta said. “He does everything I ask him to do, and he is a great kid in the wrestling room. He’s hasn’t placed yet, but he won his one match against Roswell. If we can tweak a couple of more things in him and unleash the beast in him, he’s going to be great at 132 pounds.”
Also, late bloomers in freshmen, Pablo Saragoza and Isaac McCarrick have caught the eye of Archuleta, both football players bring energy to the wrestling room.
“McCarrick is very pumped up and ready to go,” Archuleta said. “I like his enthusiasm.”
Coach Archuleta feels like wrestling is a good fit for football players because it teaches control, and how to control another person as they control themselves. Wrestling teaches a football player how to have a good base while tackling. Wrestling gets rid of the bulk from football and makes them lean. It teaches a player how to lean and push through another person and get a solid base.
“I’m impressed with Archuleta’s maturity,” Martinez said. “That’s the biggest difference I see in him this year than last year. He is starting to understand all aspects of coaching. He’s open and willing to learn and that’s good.”
On Tuesday night, Goddard wrestled in a duel with Los Lunas and Valencia at Los Lunas. From 106-138, Goddard did not have any wrestlers.
Waylon Meredith, a 145-pounder, lost his match and was pinned. Austin Langley, at 152 pounds, won his match against Los Lunas based on points.
“He did good,” Archuleta said. “He had good positioning and stayed strong, maintaining the lead all through the match.”
Aiden Werts, an eighth-grader from Berrendo, wrestled at 160 pounds. He went up against a kid in his skill level but came up a little short as he was pinned.
Sophomore Fernando Rubio wrestled at 170 pounds and wrestled all three rounds before losing.
Seth Diaz wrestled at 182 pounds and won his match with a pin.
Jonathan Ortiz wrestled at 195 pounds and lost.
“He is new to wrestling,” Archuleta said. “He wrestled tough and has a lot of heart.”
Devin Spicer-Lucero wrestled at 285 pounds and lost.
“He’s an eighth-grader,” Archuleta said, “but he wrestles tough against these older guys.”
Meredith won by forfeit. Langley won by forfeit.
“Langley is the only wrestler,” Archuleta said, “I have that’s been wrestling for Goddard for five years. He started as an eighth-grader. He’s grown into being a great wrestler. He’s invested and put in the time. He’s placed in pretty much every tournament he has gone to. He’s going to do good this year.”
Werts lost. Rubio won by forfeit. Diaz went to the second overtime tied, 1-1, but came up short losing by one point.
Ortiz lost. Spicer-Lucero lost to a junior.
“Spicer-Lucero is doing so good,” Archuleta said. “He’s got a bright future, we’re trying to get him down to 220 pounds — he’s very close. He started the season at 251 pounds, and he’s been working so hard that he’s been down as low as 224 pounds. He’s putting in his work and hasn’t missed a practice yet. He’s very dedicated. By the time he is a senior, he will be a monster.”
This was Goddard’s second duel of the season. Also making an appearance was freshman Pablo Saragoza who wrestled at 145 pounds and won his match with a defensive pin. He was down 12-0 and won. Eighth-grader Hector Salvarrey wrestled and lost, but wrestled well according to Archuleta.
“The intensity has picked up,” Archuleta said, “since the beginning of the year. These guys are just getting into wrestling shape and now that we are in January, this is the time they usually step it up. Diaz has started a fire and he’s going now. The rest of the guys see that and they try to take the lead. It is only going to get better from here. These inexperienced guys are going to get a lot more mat time. We want to wrestle tough teams so that we can become tough. If we win, we can win — if we lose, we can (gain) knowledge.”
Goddard will wrestle in a triangular duel against Roswell and Belen at Roswell on Jan. 24 at 6 p.m.