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The Los Alamos Hilltopper wrestling team will be the team the others will be looking to knock off its perch Saturday.
Los Alamos will enter the District 2-4A championship tournament as the defending district champ and the team to beat, a position the Hilltoppers aren’t used to.
The district championship tournament is scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday at Edward Medina Gymnasium in Española.
For the first time since 1995, the Hilltoppers are the defending champions at the tournament. Last season, the Hilltoppers grabbed 156 team points to hold off runners-up Santa Fe and Bernalillo for the team title.
Last season, Los Alamos, Bernalillo and Santa Fe were expected to duke it out for the championship. But Los Alamos qualified nine wrestlers for the championship round, the most of any of the five participants, and earned three individual district titles.
All three of last year’s champions for the Hilltoppers are returning to defend their crowns.
Cory Geyer (160 pounds), Brian Geyer (182 pounds) and Arnoldo Ortiz (170 pounds) are all entered into the draw and all three are expected to receive No. 1 seedings when the 2-4A brackets are announced.
Heading into Saturday’s tournament, Los Alamos head coach Bob Geyer said he is very wary of the Capital Jaguars. The Jaguars and Hilltoppers went to the wire in their lone dual meet of the season, Jan. 16 in Los Alamos, a contest in which the Hilltoppers narrowly prevailed.
Capital was also invited to last weekend’s Bryan Sanchez Memorial Invitational, but was missing several of its lower-weight wrestlers, the exact place where the Jaguars may be able to pick up team points against the rest of the 2-4A competition.
The Jaguars finished with seventh in the 10-team Sanchez Invitational, but Geyer said that finish probably doesn’t mean much because Capital was missing many of its top wrestlers.
The top three individual finishers at the 2-4A tournament will advance to next weekend’s state 4A tournament in Rio Rancho.
Last weekend, two of Los Alamos’ veterans, Peter Brewer and Diego Madrid, swapped weight classes. Brewer had been the Hilltoppers’ 220-pounder this season while Madrid competed at 195 pounds, but the two made the mutual decision to flip-flop prior to the Sanchez Invitational.
Both wrestlers ended up with top-three finishes at that tournament. Madrid and Brewer, who wrestled at those weight classes last year, were both runner-up finishers in the 2012 district tournament.