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Wrestling: LA takes second at home invite

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By Mike Cote

Now is the time to get right.With the prep wrestling season coming to a close, the Los Alamos Hilltoppers went into Saturday’s Northern New Mexico Invitational hoping to get some momentum built up for district and state tournament runs.And for most of the Hilltopper squad, it seemed to work.Los Alamos finished second at its home invitational, held at Griffith Gymnasium, behind a powerful Rio Rancho squad, which was about half junior varsity and half varsity.In all, five Hilltopper wrestlers finished in the top three Saturday, with Kory Nelson, Seth Holsapple and Blaine Lattin winning their weight classes in the round-robin tournament. Marshall Naranjo and Kameron Sanders finished second in their competitions for Los Alamos.“I’m really happy,” said Holsapple, Los Alamos’ 171-pounder. “This is my first gold ever in high school.”Holsapple was most proud of his win over Bernalillo’s Joe Calabaza, whom he will see at Saturday’s District 2AAAA duals meet. Holsapple dropped Calabaza with a second-round pin, which propelled him to the victory in the weight class.“He’s pretty strong,” Holsapple said. “I couldn’t get him on his back, but I worked it.”It was a solid outing for the Hilltoppers, who wanted to improve on a lackluster performance at last weekend’s Las Vegas Robertson Invitational.Los Alamos was able to pick up the runner-up finish despite some key personnel sitting out.“We were shy three guys,” Los Alamos head coach Eric Sorenson said, referring to Eric Neff, Brandon May and Zak Wilde, all of whom were recovering from illness. “We get those guys back, and we’ll be in good shape (for district).”Nelson, who wrestles at 125, has struggled with illness and injury this season, but was in good form Saturday. Nelson had to grind out a tough contest against Pecos’ Jonathan Torrez, but took control in the second period and stuck him at the 3:50 mark.“I feel a lot better,” Nelson said. “I finally got healthy and I got in a good week of practice.”Saturday’s invite was a good tune-up for the impending district and state meets for several reasons, not the least of which for the Hilltoppers was that three of their district competitors, Capital, Española Valley and Bernalillo were in attendance, although Española Valley’s contingent was made up mostly of its junior varsity squad.The Sundevils will be the favorites to win 2AAAA heading into the district tournament, which will be held at Española Valley Saturday.Los Alamos feels good about its chances in taking one of the top two spots Saturday, but may have to slug it out for second place with Bernalillo’s Spartans.Nelson said Los Alamos should be hanging out at the end of the 2AAAA tournament if it can keep up its performance.“The team looked real good,” he said. “We definitely want the team title and the guys want the individual title. We’re hoping our hard work pays off.”Bernalillo finished third in team competition Saturday.Lattin took the 189-pound title handily, while Sanders fought off some tough competition at 130 pounds to take second. Naranjo lost only to a tough Chris Morales of Rio Rancho at 160 pounds.