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The Los Alamos Hilltopper wrestling team will be looking for its third consecutive District 2-4A team title this weekend but a margin of error isn’t a luxury the Hilltoppers will have.
Los Alamos is the two-time defending district champ, winning those titles in convincing fashion, but this year won’t be going into the 2-4A tournament — which is Saturday in Bernalillo — as the favorite.
Instead, the team to beat will be the Capital Jaguars.
Los Alamos head coach Bob Geyer knew that from the get-go this season. He said there isn’t much else he can do or say to prep them at this point.
“We’ll have to have our younger kids step up,” he said. “We’ve got to have a few upsets here and there.”
In fact, not only will the Hilltoppers have to knock off some higher seeds, they will probably have to have help from the other three teams in the district to upend the Jaguars.
Capital has put together an impressive regular season. It won its home tournament in mid-December and had solid finishes throughout the month of January, including grabbing fifth in the Joe Vivian Invitational, quite probably the toughest tournament in New Mexico, including the state championship tournament.
The onus for Los Alamos will be on its younger, smaller wrestlers. Capital has a very solid nucleus in the lower weights and in order for Los Alamos to reclaim its title, it will have to get big performances from that group, which happens to be the least experienced portion of its roster.
Mateo Cardiel, Daniel Aguirre and Damion Sundby — two freshmen and a junior — are three wrestlers the Hilltoppers will be particularly be hoping can come through big Saturday.
Should Los Alamos get those needed performances from its younger corps, it should do well as it goes up the scale. Brian Geyer, John Dermer and Jonathan Schueler at the upper weights have been the team’s go-to wrestlers all season.
Interestingly, the 195-pound Geyer, who won the state title at 182 last season, didn’t win that weight class at district. He was knocked off by Jonah Schmelz for the 2-4A title, a wrestler that had given Geyer trouble the entire season.
Coach Geyer said the team has had a fairly light week of practice. A stomach bug, that bit senior Chandler Lauritzen and kept him out of last week’s Bryan Sanchez Invitational, has made its way to some other wrestlers this week, but Geyer said everyone should be OK come Saturday.
Aaron Hinojos will get the starting nod Saturday at 160 pounds. Chris Romero, a sophomore, will move all the way up to the 182-pound spot for district.
It’s a tall order for the Hilltoppers in their quest for a 3-peat, but the team was feeling fairly loose heading in.
“We’ve just got to take care of our business and not worry about anything else,” Geyer said. “We’ve got to go out and leave it all on the mat. If we do that and still lose, it wasn’t meant to be.”