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Wrestling: Toppers split four team duals Wednesday at home

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By Mike Cote

Despite a rough couple of showings Wednesday night, the Los Alamos Hilltopper wrestling team bounced back big when it needed to.

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The Hilltoppers made their first home appearance of the season Wednesday when they hosted four teams for a duals contest at Auxiliary Gymnasium.

All five teams faced off Wednesday, with the Rio Rancho junior varsity team — a squad that could compete very well with most varsity programs in the state — going 4-0 overall. Albuquerque Academy won three of four duals contests.

Los Alamos finished the night going 2-2, falling big to both Rio Rancho and Academy, but picking up a victory in its opener against Pecos and closing out with a solid victory over its District 2AAAA opponent Capital.

Against Capital, Los Alamos scored four straight pins during one stretch to take a 48-33 win.

“That was the biggest one,” Los Alamos first-year head coach Bob Geyer said of the win over Capital’s Jaguars. “They are district opponents. A couple of losses in that one, come district time, we’ll be right there and those could come out the other way.”

That dual didn’t start off particularly well for the Hilltoppers, who took a pin at 125 pounds, lost a 5-1 decision at 135 and had to take a forfeiture at 130, putting them into a 15-0 hole immediately.

But Los Alamos rallied back quickly, starting with Brian Geyer’s early second period pin of Andrew Peña at 140 pounds.

The victory by Geyer seemed to turn the tide in Los Alamos’ favor. Following Geyer’s win, John Gibson scored a pin at 145, Desmond Fellers had a forfeit win at 142, Clint Adams scored a second period pin at 160, Gary Thorne earned a forfeit at 171 and Diego Madrid at 189 scored a pin in the early second period, giving Los Alamos a 36-15 advantage.

Madrid needed just 12 seconds of the second period to roll the Jaguars’ Adam Villegas over and earn the victory.

Following that win — his second pinfall of the day — Madrid, a freshman, said any victories he earns during the regular season are just icing on the cake.

“I didn’t expect to do that great during (the prep season),” Madrid said. “Any kind of win is a really good one for me. This tournament I felt was good.”

This season, most of the Hilltoppers’ squad is comprised of freshmen. The team has 10 freshmen listed on its roster and that doesn’t count a pair of eighth-graders who took part in Wednesday’s contest. Only three upperclassmen were in action for Los Alamos.

In its other contests, Los Alamos defeated Pecos 66-18 to start the event, then fell to Rio Rancho 42-24 and Academy 62-15.

Against Rio Rancho, Madrid and Morrison both earned pinfalls, as did Cory Geyer in the waning seconds of the first period. Los Alamos had little success against Academy, a Class AAAA opponent, with Fellers and Jonah Katz earning pins and Alan Dahl, at 145 pounds, coming out victorious in one of the most hotly-contested bouts of the day.

Dahl, a late substitution for Los Alamos at 145, fell behind early to Academy’s Nash Phillips. Phillips dominated the first period, going up 5-0 and having Dahl on his back for a good part of the last 20 seconds.

But Dahl came roaring back in the second period, scoring 12 unanswered points — including three 3-point nearfalls — to grab a 7-point lead heading into the final period. Phillips pushed back in the third period, but four penalty points he surrendered during the second and third periods would come back to haunt him. Phillips was initially declared the winner of the bout by a 13-12 margin, but after the penalty points were recalculated, it was determined that Dahl had pulled out a 15-13 victory.

For Los Alamos, Adams finished the day with a pair of pins as did Cory Geyer.

“I think we all did pretty well considering how young the team is,” said Adams, also a freshman. “We wrestled well. We moved better than we had previously. We just wrestled hard.”

Los Alamos went into Wednesday’s meet after a rough outing at Moriarty over the weekend, where it lost all five of its contests.

This weekend won’t be any easier than last weekend, as Los Alamos will take seven wrestlers down to Cibola’s Joe Vivian Invitational, which is one of the largest and arguably the toughest tournament of the season.

However, coach Geyer said that things are generally on the upswing for his young grapplers and hopes that trend will continue.

“The effort was a lot better (Wednesday),” Geyer said. “They came out and wanted to wrestle. Everybody pretty much wrestled all-out. It’s really nice for the kids to have a showcase in front of their home crowd and do well. It made it really nice.”