LA routs Academy, nips Capital

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By Mike Cote

At the start of Los Alamos’ dual contest with the Capital Jaguars, it appeared the Hilltoppers were going to cruise to victory.
Instead, the Hilltoppers had to sweat out a close finish against their District 2-4A rival.
The Hilltopper wrestling team went 2-0 against the two full teams it faced and won one of three head-to-head contests against a handful of Española Valley wrestlers in their first home contest of the season Wednesday.
Los Alamos prevailed big over the Albuquerque Academy Chargers, 50-18, at Auxiliary Gymnasium but needed every one of its five victories over the Jaguars, along with a pair of forfeit wins, to hold on for a 41-39 victory.
The Hilltopper-Jaguar contest opened at the 152-pound weight class — the opening weight is determined by random draw — and Los Alamos’ Lane Saunders, Cory Geyer, Arnoldo Ortiz and Brian Geyer picked up impressive wins right off the bat. Saunders and Cory Geyer had first period pins for the Hilltoppers, while Brian Geyer bounced back from a slow start for a late second period pin and Ortiz won by technical fall over Capital’s Ryan Siccio.
But, despite falling behind 33-0, the Jaguars were far from done. Heavyweight Jose Cano, 113-pounder Lucas Romero, and 120-pound Daniel Ryan all picked up pins in quick succession to get the Jaguars back into the contest.
“We wrestled well, but we were really gassing in the third period,” said the 170-pound Ortiz, who went 3-0 on the day Wednesday. “That’s where it really counts. Every week in practice we’ve got to work harder. Every match until district is practice, good practice. Now we’ve got to practice harder and build off that.”
Hilltopper head coach Bob Geyer said he knew Capital, with a veteran lineup returning this season, would give his team a run for its money.
In December, Los Alamos was scheduled to take part in the Jaguar Invitational tournament, but that event got canceled due to a winter storm. Wednesday was the first time this season the two teams had met.
“We’ve got a lot of new kids in the low weights,” Geyer said. “(The Jaguars are) a little older. They’ve got a tough 106, a tough 112. They’re tough clear up to 145. It’ll be tough. It’ll be close in district. We’ll have to wrestle well to beat them.”
The District 2-4A tournament, which will be hosted by Española Valley, is almost exactly one month away. It’s the only opportunity for wrestlers to qualify for the state Class 4A tournament, which is set for Feb. 22-23.
Los Alamos won the district title last year, its first since the mid-1990s, and has its sights set on repeating this year. Capital appears to be Los Alamos’ biggest speed bump on that road.
To start Wednesday’s action, the Hilltoppers dominated Academy’s Chargers. Los Alamos swept the weight classes between 145 and heavyweight before giving up a forfeit at 106 pounds.
Brian Geyer, one of the hottest wrestlers in the state right now, pinned Logan Megginson of Academy in 1:10 in their 182-pound match and Peter Brewer needed just :35 to pin Grant Thalin at 220 pounds.
Brewer said he’s settled into a rhythm on the mat in recent outings.
“I’m doing pretty well,” he said. “Before, I was thinking too much. Today, I didn’t really overthink things too much.”
Cory Geyer, an individual state title contender at 160 pounds, had a pin in under one minute against Academy’s Matt Vinning. John Michael Romero earned a first period pin at 126 pounds against Darryn Ladabous.
Romero’s second bout of the day, against Capital’s Jonathan Anaya, was the most intense contest of the day.
Anaya came out firing and went up big early in the first period, but got his head too high against Romero’s body and Romero caught him with an inside cradle. Anaya was trapped in the move for the final :38 of the period, but staved off a pin.
Romero started on top for the second period and tried several moves to flip Anaya on his back, but Anaya fought all of them off, finally escaping with :25 remaining to go up 9-5. Romero couldn’t get much going off the bottom in the third period and Anaya earned the decision.
Also for Los Alamos, Chandler Lauritzen scored two pins Wednesday and Lane Saunders finished 2-0 with a pin and a major decision win.