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ALBUQUERQUE — Those who helped themselves over the break had it show Tuesday night at Del Norte. Those who didn’t, well, that showed, too.
It came as little surprise to Los Alamos Hilltopper head coach Eric Sorenson that his wrestlers who stuck around and worked out during the winter break at the Hilltoppers’ wrestling room did well in Tuesday’s triangular meet. Those who were out of town didn’t fare as well.
The Hilltoppers were knocked off in their first dual Tuesday night by the Class AAAAA Highland Hornets, 45-24 despite beating the Hornets 5-4 on the mat. In the second leg of their triangular, however, they lost to the Del Norte Knights 32-24, dropping five of eight bouts.
Tuesday’s triangular was the first time the Hilltopper squad had seen competition since before the school dismissed for winter break.
While Sorenson was generally pleased with what he saw against Highland, his team generally didn’t look very sharp against Del Norte.
“We lost a couple we should’ve won,” Sorenson said. “But you’ve got to wrestle better to win.”
Los Alamos, which is giving up at least 18 points per dual off the bat due to holes in its lineup, had somewhat of a mixed showing against the Hornets in its opener.
Some of its younger wrestlers, such as Alejandro Mendez at 130 pounds, Desmond Fellers at 145, Nate Robbins at 215 and Jodi Cull-Host at 103, earned impressive victories.
However, some of Los Alamos’ veterans and most reliable competitors, including Zak Wilde at 160, Paul Martinez at 112 and Kory Nelson at 125, ended up on the wrong end of decisions Tuesday.
Wilde, however, was complaining of illness prior to his bout with Andrez Davalos, while Nelson was injured in the third period of his contest with Thomas Romero-Salas, a bout in which he had been clinging to a slim 2-1 lead.
Mendez, a sophomore, was one of just two Hilltoppers to pick up a pair of wins Tuesday. Mendez earned a decisive 9-3 win against Stefon Johns, scoring a takedown with only one second remaining in the first period to grab a 4-3 lead, then came back against Del Norte’s Miles Kellywood, scoring a pinfall.
Also winning both his contests was senior 189-pounder Blaine Lattin.
Lattin, who has been a rock at 189 for the past two seasons, earned a disqualification nod over Highland’s Armando Davalos. Davalos was DQ’d after throwing a punch to Lattin’s ribs over an equipment problem — Lattin was well in-control of the contest when the disqualification occurred early in the second period.
Against Del Norte’s Felix Nuñez, Lattin scored a pin.
One of the most impressive wins of the evening came at 103 pounds. Cull-Host, who is on the light end of the lightest weight class in prep wrestling, put together an impressive series of takedowns against Highland’s Adam Griego, putting away a close bout to take a 16-10 victory.
“Jodi’s got good technique,” Sorenson said. “Her problem is she’s a light 103 and she’s giving up a lot of strength at 103. That’s her nemesis.”
After jumping out to a 4-2 lead in the first period, Griego scored a late reversal in the second period — Cull-Host was also penalized for locking hands in the period — to cut Cull-Host’s advantage to just 6-5 heading into the third.
In the third period, Cull-Host, who had trouble controlling Griego but seemed to have no trouble taking him down when she wanted, dropped Griego five times in the period, letting him up four times before running out the final minute of the period.
Also scoring a win Tuesday was Gary Thorne at 171, who bounced back after a first-bout loss to pin Austin Morganti of Del Norte.
Following the winter break, Los Alamos is hitting the ground running. It will take part in the Moriarty Duals, which is scheduled for five rounds, Saturday, then will have two more events next week.
“This is where we have to buckle down and perform well,” Sorenson said.