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It’s been a bit of a chore for the Los Alamos Hilltopper wrestling team to get back on track following the winter break.
Los Alamos didn’t have the kind of showing it was hoping for last weekend at a tournament hosted by Albuquerque Academy and it was hoping to bounce back from that Wednesday when it hosted Academy and Rio Rancho in a triangular meet.
But, due to a few factors, not the least of which was key absences from its regular starting lineup, Los Alamos fell short in both its duals contests.
The Hilltoppers were nipped by Academy’s Chargers to start the meet, 39-37, then fell to Rio Rancho 39-27.
Things may well have gone differently for the Hilltoppers with their full lineup at their disposal.
Most notably absent from the lineup Wednesday was Brian Geyer, Los Alamos’ 195-pounder and defending state champion. Geyer, along with some other Hilltoppers, was battling illness and was kept out of action.
Without Geyer, Los Alamos had to give up a forfeit at 195 pounds to Academy’s Seth Packer, one of the bouts that the Hilltoppers would otherwise have been favored in.
Even with a full team, Los Alamos still would’ve had to perform a bit of a juggling act, as Geyer, Mateo Cardiel and Nathan Aguirre, would’ve been unavailable to take part in both the Academy and the Rio Rancho contests — prep wrestlers are limited in the number of contests they can take part in during the year.
Despite the issues Hilltopper head coach Bob Geyer was dealing with at the triangular, he was still less-than-impressed with the outcomes.
“We’ve got to pick it up and go,” he said. “We had some disciplinary actions we had to do, violations of team rules we had…it’s tough to compete when you’re giving up a couple of weight classes to Academy.”
Los Alamos used all of its available capital on Academy, a rival Class 4A team, to try to grab the upper hand if seeding at next month’s state 4A tournament became an issue, but it was not to be.
There were some notable good showings turned in by the Hilltoppers, however, not the least of which was Patrick Irish, who earned two pins filling in at 220 pounds.
Irish scored first period pin over Grant Thulin of Academy, needing just a little over a minute to win that bout, then stuck Rio Rancho’s Elijah Herrera in just 25 seconds to win his other match-up.
Irish said he spent the better part of this week getting down to 220, including wearing a sweater during practice to take off some water weight.
“The weight loss didn’t effect my wrestling,” Irish said. “I felt stronger than I did when I was heavier.”
Also coming up with a big win was Chris Romero, who controlled his bout against Rio Rancho’s Joseph Glenn the entire way and earning a 10-4 decision.
Against Academy, Jonathan Schueler at heavyweight picked up a big 7-3 win over Andrew Wilson. Wilson led that bout 3-2 until the last 15 seconds until Schueler scored a quick reversal and back points to pull out what had been a rather uneventful contest up to that point.
Schueler and Lane Saunders, two of Los Alamos’ top competitors, both went 2-0 on the day, Saunders pinned Zachary Jamison of Academy then scored a 2-1 overtime win Rio Rancho’s Ray Sean Marchi. Schueler pinned Rio Rancho’s Thomas Owens in just 42 seconds.
Los Alamos won’t have a lot of time to prepare for its next contest, the very tough Joe Vivian Invitational tournament, which starts Friday in Albuquerque.
The Vivian tournament includes most of the top teams in the state and includes a 32-man bracket in each weight class.
Coach Geyer said he’s hoping to have a full team heading into that tournament, which is considered one of the best predictors of success at the state tournament.