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RIO RANCHO – Brian Geyer was working for the weekend. His work paid off big time.
Geyer, Los Alamos’ 182-pound junior wrestler, held on for dear life, literally, against Los Lunas’ Mark Hussey to earn an individual state Class 4A title. Geyer won in the fourth overtime period, just hanging on to Hussey’s ankle long enough to pick up a sudden death ride-out win in the state championship bout.
Earlier this year, Hussey defeated Geyer 4-3, but Saturday night, Geyer was the victor.
It was a rough couple of weeks for Geyer heading into the tournament, getting hurt prior to the District 2-4A championships, where he lost to Jonah Schmelz of Santa Fe, but nursed his shoulder injury over the previous week to get back to health.
It was a big tournament for the Hilltoppers, who were cautiously optimistic heading into state they could have a strong showing.
Los Alamos finished in fifth place, one of its strongest team showings in recent history.
Along with advancing the two Geyers, Brian and Cory, to the finals, moved two other wrestlers into the championship semifinals, 152-pounder Lane Saunders and 170-pounder Arnoldo Ortiz. Diego Madrid at 220 and Chandler Lauritzen at 132 also made it through to the medal round in the consolation bracket.
To get to the final, Brian Geyer had to defeat an old, familiar foe in Schmelz.
Schmelz and Geyer have some history between them.
“He’s a tough opponent,” Geyer said. “He’s very strong and he has great technique on the mat. We’ve been wrestling each other for awhile. Last year, I beat him two times and he beat me at state. This year, he beat me two times during the regular season, but I beat him when it counted.”
Schmelz topped Geyer the previous weekend at the District 2-4A meet and got off to a good start in Saturday’s semifinal, scoring an escape early in the second period and holding off the remainder of the way to lead 1-0.
Geyer elected to start off the bottom in the third period and, despite a pair of close calls, hadn’t eluded Schmelz’s grasp. Then, with :22 remaining, Geyer got to his feet and was trying to pry Schmelz’s hands free and Schmelz hoisted him in the air, but was called for locking his fingers together.
With the score at 1-1, Schmelz was whistled again for locking his fingers at the :12 mark, sending Geyer leaping into the air with excitement. In the waning moments, Geyer scored an escape and a takedown to win 6-1.
Brian Geyer had perhaps the most impressive showing of any of the Hilltoppers at the tournament through the championship round.
He was one of the few Hilltoppers with a first round bout and won that with a second round pin over Josh Netzer of Kirtland Central.
In the second round, Geyer used a deftly set up cradle to put Jesus Alvarado on his back in the first period. Then, in the quarterfinals, Geyer controlled his bout with Capital’s Jacob Esquibel throughout, picking up an 8-3 win.
Hilltopper No. 1 seed Cory Geyer survived a brief second round scare to advance to the quarterfinals, then earned a solid 5-1 victory over Andres Villa of Goddard Friday night to punch his ticket to the semifinals.
Also in the quarterfinals, Arnoldo Ortiz nipped Valencia’s Ramon Fuentes in overtime, scoring a takedown with :25 remaining in the first overtime period to advance, and Lane Saunders broke open a tight contest with Tierney Staley of Farmington in the third period, driving Staley to his back with a cow-catcher to earn a 9-3 decision.
John Michael Romero at 126 pounds, Chandler Lauritzen at 132 and Diego Madrid at 220 also made the championship quarterfinals for the Hilltoppers, but Madrid and Lauritzen lost by major decision and Romero was pinned in the second round.