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Wrestling: Martinez, Lattin take sixth at state

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By Mike Cote

RIO RANCHO — The great showing in front of the biggest stage in New Mexico prep wrestling just didn’t happen for the Los Alamos Hilltoppers.Going into the Class AAAA tournament at the Santa Ana Star Center, the Hilltoppers had high hopes of grabbing a half-dozen medals and to at least get the team name on the top half of the leaderboard.“It did not materialize,” Los Alamos head coach Eric Sorenson said. “Too many little mistakes with our fundamentals. We got caught in half-a-dozen head-and-arms. They know how to defend that move. I’m not sure what to think.”In team standings, Los Alamos finished with 31 points, putting it 14th overall. Belen dominated the AAAA standings, grabbing 118.5 points. Its closest competitor, Silver, finished with 81.Only four Hilltoppers were still alive in the championship bracket after session one Friday, and only one, Paul Martinez, advanced to the semifinal round unscathed.Martinez and Blaine Lattin would pick up sixth-place medals at the tournament, the only two earned by the Hilltoppers.Martinez, at 112 pounds, opened the day edging out Ishmael Begay of Shiprock 4-1 before stunning Jesse Zavala of Santa Teresa 10-8 in round two.Zavala nearly had Martinez put away just 20 seconds into the quarterfinal bout, getting Martinez in a quick head-and-arm. Martinez survived Zavala’s quick initial onslaught to tie the score by the end of the period.Following the bout, Martinez said he knew if he wanted to keep his dream of a state title alive, he’d have to gut it out.“I just really wanted to continue on,” Martinez said. “This is the first time I’ve been to state since eighth grade. I really want this.”Working from the top to start the second period, Martinez’s chicken wing had Zavala teetering toward the mat for nearly 15 seconds. Martinez rode Zavala out for the balance of the period.With Martinez clinging to a 3-point lead, Zavala skipped over Martinez’s hip, then was awarded a penalty point to tie the score.With just :23 remaining in regulation, Martinez exploded from the bottom and reversed Zavala to grab the win.In Los Alamos’ other first round contests, 145-pounder Brandon May nipped Silver’s Noah Villalba in one of the most closely contested bouts of Friday’s first round.May and Villalba were deadlocked at 7 after two periods. Late in the third, May was trying to work free of Villalba’s hands when Villalba was ruled to have intentionally pushed May out of bounds with :47 remaining, giving May a penalty point, the only point tallied in the period.At 152 pounds, Zak Wilde stuck Phillip Bejarano of Roswell late in the second period, and at 189, Lattin needed just :56 to pin Clovis Rivera of Belen.“It started out pretty well,” May said of his team’s early going. “We had some tough matches. We definitely had to pick it up. They were pretty hard, though.”The second round didn’t go as swimmingly for the Hilltoppers Friday, however.Wilde fell in a 7-2 decision to Moriarty’s Alex Griego, a wrestler with whom Wilde split two regular season contests, Griego winning the first and Wilde the second.Lattin, who was also looking forward to his meeting against rival Piedra Vista’s Jesus Moreno, could get little going in the second round, falling 11-2 to drop into the consolation bracket.More information will be in Tuesday’s Monitor.