Hilltoppers find success at first day of state wrestling championships

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By Phil Scherer



Though only one person is still in the running for individual championship, every person who competed for Los Alamos High School won at least one match Friday at the first day of the 2018 state wrestling championships.

Heading into the second day of competition, freshman Devin Atencio has advanced to the semifinal round, defeating both of his competitors Friday.

Seven other wrestlers, Donovan Atencio, Damian Gonzales, Israel Gellis, Reyes Mendez, Dylan Irish, Milo Light and Gloria Ramos, are still in contention for third place on the consolation side of the bracket.

Overall, the first round of the tournament was strong for the Hilltoppers, as eight of the 14 wrestlers advanced in their championship brackets. Five of the wins came by pin, as the wrestlers from LAHS overpowered their opponents.

Devin Atencio got the action started in the 106-pound weight class. He entered the tournament as one of the favorites after claiming the District 2-5A championship last week. Facing Espanola Valley’s Joey Fernandez, who he defeated to claim the district championship, Atencio had little trouble, winning the match by pin in 1:13 to advance to the quarterfinals.

The next victory came from Damian Gonzales, wrestling in the 120-pound weight class. He faced Damian Valdez, a senior from Goddard, and came away with a convincing victory. After getting into good position early in the match, Gonzales was able to finish off his competitor in 1:51 to advance to the quarterfinals.

Gellis, a junior, who won the District 2-5A championship in the 138-pound weight class last weekend, advanced to the quarterfinals by forfeit when his competitor broke his rib before the match and was unable to wrestle.

Sophomore Ty Nieto also advanced in the 160-pound weight class. From the start of the match, he dominated his opponent, Uriah Munoz from Volcano Vista. He picked up points with ease through the first round but was unable to pin him. Midway through the second round, Nieto won by technical fall, when he surpassed the 15-point mark, winning 17-0 to advance to the quarterfinals.

Another impressive showing came from Irish, the District 2-5A champion in the 182-pound weight class. He took on Jalen Allison from Farmington from the first round and took control almost immediately. After nearly winning in the first round, Irish got Allison on the ground to start the second and won by pin 25 seconds into the round to claim the win.

In the only win of the round to come by decision instead of pin, sophomore Dimitri Bullock took down Santa Teresa’s Oscar Beltran 5-2 in the 195-pound weight class. It was a hard-fought battle throughout, with neither wrestler getting the other to the ground very easily. Thanks to some nice moves near the end of the match, Bullock was able to advance to the quarterfinals.

Light, competing in the 285-pound weight class, struggled to gain control early against Aztec’s Deangelo Padilla, with both wrestlers staying on their feet for much of the first round. However, Light took control in the second round and got Padilla on the ground, pinning him 43 seconds into the second round.

In the women’s tournament, sophomore Gloria Ramos proved she was going to be tough to beat, taking down Cleveland’s Elizabeth Trujeque by pin in just 24 seconds. With the win, she advanced to the semifinals in the 131-pound weight class.

On the consolation side of the bracket, the Hilltoppers dominated in the first round, as every wrestler from LAHS came away victorious.

The wins on the consolation side of the bracket came from Donovan Atencio, Liam Johnston, Aiden Johnston, Mendez, Lewis Harvey and Arturo Rodriguez. All six lost their first round matchups.

The second round of the championship bracket wasn’t nearly as kind to the Hilltoppers, as only Devin Atencio advanced to Saturday’s semifinal round. He defeated Kirtland Central’s Devin Montano by pin 32 seconds into the second round.

Despite losing their second round matchups, Gonzales, Gellis and Irish and Light bounced back to win their first consolation matches and remain in contention for third place heading into Saturday’s action.

In the girls’ tournament, Ramos lost in the semifinals, but will compete for third place Saturday.