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Entering his second season as head coach of the Los Alamos Hilltopper wrestling program, Robert Geyer has plenty of help.
With a slew of assistant coaches for the 2010-11 season, the preseason workouts for the team have been productive. Exactly how productive?
Los Alamos will get to see Friday.
Los Alamos opens its season at the Manzano Invitational tournament Saturday. Cibola, Eldorado and Albuquerque Academy, along with two of Los Alamos’ District 2AAAA opponents, Capital and Santa Fe, are expected to compete.
The Hilltoppers started off with decent numbers inside the wrestling room to start its preseason workouts, but due to injury and attrition, will go into the season with 17 wrestlers.
Again, as has been the case for the last several seasons, many of their grapplers are young and have little experience at the high school level.
Last season, Los Alamos was largely a work-in-progress, although some of its underclassmen started pulling things together late. Los Alamos put three wrestlers into the district finals last season and sent seven wrestlers to the state tournament.
Los Alamos will have some of those wrestlers back to start the season, along with the team’s lone senior, Desmond Fellers, who missed out on a shot at the state tournament last season.
Fellers suffered a dislocated shoulder late in the year, an injury that he re-aggravated during the preseason. Fellers isn’t expected to compete Saturday and Geyer said they’d be watching him closely so he doesn’t get back on the mat too early.
Additionally, Los Alamos picked up a transfer student from Pojoaque, Alyc Montoya. Montoya, who won’t be able to compete until later this month due to transfer regulations, said he’s already very impressed with what he’s seen out of the program.
“There’s a lot of energy, intensity, enthusiasm,” Montoya said. “There are great coaches. It’s easy to stay focused. We have everything we need to be successful.”
The Hilltoppers apparently have been impressed with Montoya, as well, naming him one of the team’s captains, along with returnees Cory Geyer and Jodi Cull-Host. This will be Montoya’s first season wrestling at the prep level. Pojoaque doesn’t offer wrestling, but he has competed for the past two years in Amateur Athletic Union events.
Cull-Host will return for her junior year at 103 pounds, while Geyer is slated to start in the 152-pound weight class.
Geyer, however, said who will be starting in what divisions is still very much up in the air right now, although he plans to enter six wrestlers in the varsity division Saturday and put many of the rest in the sub-varsity tournament.
One of Los Alamos’ dilemmas heading into the season is that the bulk of their wrestlers fall into the middleweight categories. There are classes where the Hilltoppers are two or three deep and many other weights where they will be struggling to find entries.
“One thing is that we have good sparring partners to make us better,” Geyer said. “But it’s hard to say how we’re going to do as a team as yet.”
One of Los Alamos’ most promising young wrestlers from a year ago, Diego Madrid, is moving up to 215 pounds from 189, where he finished as the 2AAAA runner up, to try to fill in a needed spot.
Also scheduled to start in the big tournament Saturday are newcomers Ian Forsyth at 135 pounds and Alan Dahl at 145. Brian Geyer will go at 160 pounds and another promising younger wrestler, Ben Mitsunaga, will get the nod at 140.
“I’m excited for it,” Cull-Host said going into Saturday’s opener. “I think we could be a little more ready, but we’ll do well. I’m not sure what the other wrestlers are like at other schools, but we should be able to hold our own out there.”