.....Advertisement.....
.....Advertisement.....

Wrestling: LA opens season Friday at Capital

-A A +A
By Mike Cote

One day, the room at the Pueblo Complex marked “Topper Wrestling” will be filled, and the mat-covered floor will be operating at 100 percent capacity.Unless things get cranking, however, that day probably won’t come this season.“I’m kind of disappointed in the numbers,” Los Alamos head coach Eric Sorenson said. “We’ve been on the upswing for awhile, but in the early part of the season, we were struggling to have even double-digit numbers. We started off low, but we’re up a little bit.”Çurrently, the Hilltoppers have 16 wrestlers on their roster for the 2007-08 season, and another two will show up soon.At this point, however, it appears Los Alamos will probably be missing wrestlers in several classes, mostly the middleweight classes.Going into the Jaguar Invitational, the Hilltoppers’ season opener which gets underway Friday afternoon and continues through Saturday at Capital High School in Santa Fe, Los Alamos will be missing varsity wrestlers in 103 pounds, 135 pounds, 140 and 215. Los Alamos will have to go without a 119-pounder this weekend, although it should have that spot filled in the near future.Sorenson said he had several freshmen on his roster who bring with them plenty of enthusiasm. Many of them wrestle around 125 pounds.But Sorenson said that, even if some of his current wrestlers could go up or down into the weight classes he needs, he isn’t going to try and push them into doing so.Nationwide, high schools have been taking the issues of weight and weight-related complications very seriously. This season, Los Alamos and other state schools with wrestling programs were required to take part in a body fat assessment to help ensure safe weight-maintenance practices were being used.Los Alamos has spent a good portion of its preseason workouts focusing on conditioning. Hilltopper Kory Nelson said the team is very fit heading into the start of the season.“We’re pushing it really hard,” said Nelson, a junior. “Everyone’s trying to keep up. I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life.”Nelson will need to be in excellent shape this season. As a sophomore last season, he wrestled at 103 pounds, and was very successful at that weight class, taking fourth place at the state Class AAAA wrestling tournament.However, this season Nelson bulked up considerably and will compete at 125 pounds.His biggest challenge in moving up will be that, at 103 pounds, he was taking on mostly freshmen and sophomores, while at 125 he’ll be seeing mostly juniors and seniors with more experience.Roughly a dozen teams are expected to compete at the Jaguar Invitational, which Sorenson said is a good size for the team’s first competition. Among those teams are some solid programs like Robertson, Moriarty, Roswell, Goddard and two teams from Amarillo, Texas.Los Alamos will also get to look at Capital, Taos and Española Valley, its District 2AAAA competition.Blaine Lattin, a junior wrestling at 189 pounds, said he’s particularly interested in seeing Capital.“I hope I got a couple of Capital guys, and get revenge from football,” Lattin said. Lattin was an offensive lineman and linebacker on the Hilltoppers’ 2007 squad which got upset by the Capital’s Jaguars 50-30.Lattin, who won the 2AAAA title at 189 pounds, despite tipping the scales at around 170 last season, has put on some weight and is closer to 180 going into the season.Going into the season, Lattin said his teammates, even the incoming freshmen, are meshing well.“We’re small, but we’re all really close with each other,” Lattin said. “It makes it much better. We have the support of everyone on the team.”At this weekend’s tournament, Nelson will go at 125 pounds, while Russell Hardesty will go at 125 pounds in the junior varsity bracket. Kameron Sanders will wrestle at 130 pounds, Brandon May at 152, Zak Wilde at 160, Gary Thorne at 171, Lattin at 189 at Eric Carlson at heavyweight.Carlson, a senior, is wrestling for the first time with the Hilltoppers. Los Alamos had been without a heavyweight for the previous two seasons.Sorenson said he’s not necessarily looking for anything out of this weekend other than getting his younger wrestlers some experience.“We mostly want mat time,” he said. “I’m hoping we don’t have kids who go and lose their first two and are done. For some of our kids, this is their first competition.”The big test of the season, and the one Sorenson said he wants Los Alamos to be ready for is the Robertson Invitational, scheduled for Feb. 1-2. That tournament, one of the biggest in the state and one which includes most of the big boys of New Mexico wrestling, comes just two weeks before the 2AAAA duals, which will be held at Española Valley.