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At the beginning of the 2009-10 season, it would’ve come as a surprise to many that the Los Alamos Hilltopper wrestling team would have a legitimate crack at a district runner-up title.
But the situation wasn’t much different at the start of the 2008-09 season, either.
The Hilltoppers will host the District 2AAAA championship tournament Saturday. The meet will determine which three wrestlers from each weight class will advance to next weekend’s state championship.
Los Alamos’ lone senior, Gary Thorne, is looking forward to having the meet at home, the first time in his career that his team will host the tournament, although that could present some psychological challenges.
“There could be (some extra pressure),” Thorne said. “I’m not going to let it get to me. I’d like to win district, do good. This is the first time we’ve had district here for years. I’m ready.”
While Los Alamos this season had a good number of bodies in the wrestling room, the vast majority of those were freshmen wrestling under the tutelage of a rookie head coach, Bob Geyer.
Geyer, however, said he’s been pretty pleased with how his charges have done this season, considering their youth. Geyer said that if some of his young wrestlers can put some back-to-back solid bouts together Saturday, the team could be looking at taking 8 or 9 wrestlers to the Class AAAA championship.
Los Alamos will head into Saturday’s tournament coming off a sixth-place finish at its home tournament. Its 110 team points tied it with Bernalillo, the same team it may have to beat out to defend its runner-up title.
Española Valley is expected to win its fifth-straight district title. The Sundevils finished second at the Sanchez tournament last week, picking up 195 team points.
In the 2008-09 state tournament, the Hilltoppers had 9 entries and took home two medals, those won by then-seniors Zak Wilde and Blaine Lattin.
Complicating things for Los Alamos heading into Saturday’s meet is the injury suffered last week by Desmond Fellers, one of the team’s few returners from last season. Fellers suffered a dislocated shoulder in the first round of his first bout last week.
Fellers will be out this tournament. Clint Adams will drop down to the 152-pound spot and Alan Dahl, who weighs around 145, will move up to the 160-pound spot vacated by Adams.
For Thorne, who missed time early in the season, he’s well aware that there are some tough wrestlers in the 171-pound bracket and he could have a dogfight on his hands in his pursuit of a district title.
“It’s already too late in the year to make any big adjustments,” Thorne said following last week’s Bryan Sanchez Invitational. “I know how to wrestle. I just have to button down and do it.”