Hilltoppers claim second straight district title

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By Mike Cote

ESPAÑOLA – It wasn’t so long ago when folks around the Los Alamos Hilltopper wrestling program were asking if the team could sneak into the top three at the district tournament.
The question has become, in a relatively short period of time, whether the other teams in district are going to be able to hang with the Hilltoppers.
The answer to that question, at least for the 2012-13 season, is no.
Saturday, Los Alamos picked up a solid win in the District 2-4A championship tournament at Edward Medina Gymnasium. Los Alamos didn’t end up wrestling quite as well as it had hoped coming in, but it was still good enough to earn 170.5 points, nearly 30 points better than runner-up Capital.
Capital, which appeared to be Los Alamos’ closest competitor for a team title coming in, had an uneven showing at the tournament and couldn’t make up for it despite a solid showing in the final round.
The win by the Hilltoppers was their second straight 2-4A title. They broke a nearly 20-year dry spell by grabbing the district title last season.
Los Alamos head coach Bob Geyer said he knew as long as his team came out to perform Saturday, its chances of winning another title were excellent.
“I don’t know that Los Alamos has ever put 14 kids in for a shot at state titles,” he said. “That goes back even to when I was coaching juniors.”
Los Alamos’ entire slate of entries into the 2-4A tournament qualified for the Class 4A championship, which will take place Friday and Saturday in Rio Rancho.
Along the way, the Hilltoppers took more individual district titles, five, than any other competing team. Capital, which has some tough customers in the lower-weight divisions, ended up with four district champions.
A pair of last season’s district champs, Cory Geyer at 160 pounds and Arnoldo Ortiz at 170, successfully defended their crowns. Also picking up championships were Chandler Lauritzen (132), Lane Saunders (152) and Diego Madrid (220).
Lauritzen, the No. 1 seed at 132, was dominant in his two bouts, including scoring a second period pin over Wesley White of Bernalillo in the championship round, a contest he dominated from the opening whistle. Ortiz was equally dominant at 170 and scored a technical fall against Ryan Sirico of Capital to pick up his second straight individual crown.
The other three title contest wins for Los Alamos were considerably closer.
One of the most hotly contested bouts Saturday was the battle between Madrid and Jordan Trujillo of Española Valley.
Madrid led by a lone point after two rounds – Trujillo got Madrid on his back and very nearly pinned him early in the second round before Madrid rallied late – and was clinging to that 6-5 lead with about 30seconds remaining in round three.
Then, Trujillo, working off the bottom, dragged Madrid’s arm underneath him and earned a reversal, taking a 7-6 lead.
Trujillo appeared to have the bout won at that point, but Madrid got some separation and, pushing his head into Trujillo’s ribs, forced Trujillo to flip over and got a reversal with just :10 remaining to pull out the win.
“That last 30 seconds when he flipped me, I was saying ‘no, no, no’ to myself the whole time,” Madrid said. “I would’ve been really sad if I’d lost.”
Madrid, along with Saunders, Cory Geyer, Brian Geyer, who was upset by Santa Fe’s Jonah Schmelz in the 182-pound championship, and Ortiz should all get consideration for getting top-four seedings when the state tournament draw is announced later this week.
Los Alamos hasn’t fared well in recent state tournament appearances, but with a senior-heavy roster, it’s hoping to make some noise this year.
And, Madrid said, he thinks the team will have momentum heading in.
“It felt great. This being my senior year, being able to repeat for the first time since those guys did 17 or 18 years ago, that’s what’s great about it,” he said.
Following Los Alamos and Capital, which finished with 143 points, was Bernalillo. Bernalillo, a co-runner-up in district last season, collected a better-than-expected 121 points.
Coach Geyer said his team is going to do some two-a-day workouts this week, mostly conditioning in the morning and regular practice in the afternoon, to prepare for state.
“We’re happy with our showing, but we’ve got some work to do,” Geyer said. “It’s not too much work, but this was a good outing. It was a good way to send our seniors off.”