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Wrestling: Toppers struggle at state tourney

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By Mike Cote

RIO RANCHO — After a lean first round Friday, much of the Los Alamos Hilltopper wrestling team was able to make up for it in the second round.

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Los Alamos took six wrestlers to the Class AAAA state championship tournament — seven Hilltoppers qualified to take part but heavyweight Taylor Morrison was a last-minute scratch – held at the Santa Ana Star Center this weekend. Los Alamos didn’t get anyone through to Saturday, however, with all five remaining wrestlers heading into Friday’s final round being eliminated.

The Hilltoppers didn’t fare so well teamwise at the tournament, which was won by Volcano Vista. The Hilltoppers finished with 12 points, placing them 20th out of the 25 competing teams.

Volcano Vista’s Hawks won the Class AAAA title handily, picking up 198 points, 38 points better than runner-up Moriarty.

Friday’s first round wasn’t kind to the Hilltoppers. The only Hilltopper to pick up a victory – or even to survive the first round – was 189-pounder Diego Madrid.

Madrid, a freshman, was the only Los Alamos wrestler who had a favorable draw in the opening round, going up against Adam Padilla of Valencia, who had earned just 2 victories on the regular season against 14 losses.

Madrid overpowered Padilla for most of the first two rounds, going up 8-3 heading into the third round.

Early in the third round, however, after Madrid elected to start the round from the bottom, an escape attempt put Madrid on his back briefly, although Madrid was able to grab Padilla’s elbow and reverse positions. Madrid pinned Padilla at the 4:24 mark.

The rest of the first round, however, was just plain ugly. None of the other five Hilltoppers would so much as score a point before getting stuck and only 135-pounder Cory Geyer and 171-pounder Gary Thorne got through even one minute.

Los Alamos, which finished last at the District 2AAAA tournament a week earlier, figured it had its work well cut-out for it heading into the state championship.

Hilltopper head coach Bob Geyer, in his first season leading the program, said he told his wrestlers to stay as loose as possible heading in.

Geyer said going into the tournament that, realistically, if each of his wrestlers won one bout, that would constitute a successful run by his team. That nearly happened for the Hilltoppers, with five of the six advancing one space before being knocked out.

The first consolation round went considerably better for Los Alamos. Los Alamos won four of its five elimination bouts, including a forfeit at 171 pounds, of which Thorne was the beneficiary.

Brian Geyer scored a pin in his first consolation round contest over Silver’s Carlos Vega, that coming late in the third round. Gibson survived a wild contest against another District 2AAAA opponent, Keonny Gonzales of Bernalillo, holding on in the third period to win that bout 11-8.

Adams, meanwhile, eked out a decision over Albuquerque Academy’s Andrew Hunt. The bout was scoreless until the final :22 when Adams squirmed out of an ankle hold. Adams went on to win 3-0.

Cory Geyer was the only Los Alamos casualty of the first consolation round, falling to Nataanii Hatahlie of Kirtland Central 3-0.

Madrid would end up losing his next two, falling to Sam Peters of St. Pius in the championship bracket and losing a 4-2 decision to Clayton Pankey of Bernalillo in his first elimination contest.

While Los Alamos’ 2009-10 season didn’t end on the highest of notes, Los Alamos’ future could be very promising should it be able to retain the bulk of its roster from this season, which was chock full of eighth-graders and freshmen. Thorne was the only non-freshman or eighth-grader who competed in the tournament for the Hilltoppers.

Brian Geyer fell in the second consolation round to Bernalillo’s David Early, Gibson was eliminated by Robert Eldridge of St. Pius X, Adams was dropped by Shiprock’s Clint Mike and Thorne fell to Dakota Swinehart, the District 2AAAA champion at 171 pounds.