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LAHS earns fifth place at Al Salazar Invitational

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By Phil Scherer

In one of the toughest mid-season tournaments in northern New Mexico, the Los Alamos High School wrestling team gained valuable experience and posted some good results, finishing fifth among the 14 competing teams. 

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Cleveland High School won the Al Salazar Invitational in dominant fashion, with more than 30 points more than second place Santa Fe High. LAHS’ District 2-4A rival Taos finished in third place. The event was hosted by St. Michael’s High School.

Dylan Irish and Damian Gonzales were the standout competitors for the Hilltoppers, both earning second place in their weight brackets. Irish competed in the 182-pound weight class, and Gonzales competed in the 126-pound weight class. 

Gonzales, who is only a sophomore, has been impressive early in the season. He has a record of 18-5, and has been one of the top point-earners for the team so far. 

For Irish, a senior, his loss in the finals was only his second loss of the season to this point. He is now 16-2 this year after impressing at the state tournament a year ago. 

Three other Hilltoppers, Israel Gellis, Ty Nieto and Mateo Martinez, advanced to the semifinals in their weight brackets. 

Martinez’s route to the semifinals was anything but easy. In the second round, he trailed Tucumcari’s Dyson Clark and needed a pin to advance. 

With time winding down, he got it with an impressive trip takedown that allowed him to pin Clark and win the match. 

Gellis and Nieto have impressed early in the season, as Nieto entered the tournament with a record of 15-4, while Gellis entered with a record of 11-4. 

The Hilltoppers earned a total of 93.5 points in the tournament, and gained positive momentum to take forward through the rest of the season, most importantly district competition, which begins in February. This will be especially important on a young team featuring only three seniors.