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It would take the best collective effort the Los Alamos Hilltopper wrestlers had to offer to pull off a major upset in the district tournament.
And Los Alamos pulled it off.
The Hilltoppers nipped the Capital Jaguars for the District 2-4A championship at Saturday’s tournament, hosted by Bernalillo.
Los Alamos scored 176 team points to Capital’s 170 to earn its third consecutive district title. Along the way, Los Alamos earned four individual district crowns to three by the Jaguars.
“Everybody we needed to have step up stepped up,” Los Alamos head coach Bob Geyer said after leading his team to its third consecutive district win — it had been nearly two decades since the Hilltoppers won a district title prior to their win in 2011-12.
As a reward for its efforts, every one of the Hilltoppers’ 14 participants in Saturday’s meet qualified for the state tournament. The 4A championship starts Friday in Rio Rancho.
Among the big finishes that pushed Los Alamos over the top were Dominick Montoya at 132 pounds and Damien Sundby at 138 pounds.
Montoya upset Capital’s Gilbert Mancha for the 132-pound title. Mancha attempted to wrestle through a back injury but a first period power move by Montoya aggravated the injury and Mancha had to retire from the contest, giving the Hilltoppers a key victory in that contest.
Then, at 138 pounds, the sophomore Sundby knocked off Tommy Wright of Capital to move into the championship round and earn a big runner-up finish in that weight class.
Los Alamos’ Lane Saunders (170 pounds) and Brian Geyer (195 pounds) earned individual 2-4A titles, as expected, and heavyweight Jonathan Schueler topped Capital’s Jose Cano in a close contest to earn that title.
Schueler and Cano have battled through some close contests this season, but Schueler has topped Cano in two big events — he also knocked Cano off for the title at Capital’s home meet in December.
Prior to Saturday, the Jaguars hadn’t placed behind the Hilltoppers in any of their common contests. The Jaguars were actually among the favorites for a top-five finish in state this season, while the Hilltoppers aren’t expected to compete for a repeat top-five finish like they had in 2012-13.
“It really hasn’t sunk in 100 percent with a lot of the kids,” Geyer said of the team’s upset. “I told my wife (Sunday) it was amazing that we pulled it off.”
Taking runner-up spots for Los Alamos were Mateo Cardiel (120), Chandler Lauritzen (145), Aaron Hinojos (160), Chris Romero (182) and John Dermer (220).
Hinojos has missed time this season with injury and Romero had to move up considerably in weight class — he weighed in at just 164 Saturday morning — to fill in a gap for the Hilltoppers there.