'Toppers expect big things at 4A tourney

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By Mike Cote

When the Los Alamos Hilltopper wrestling program’s coaching staff sat down Tuesday night to crunch the numbers, the group figured it had a good shot of getting five individuals seeded.
Los Alamos will take part in the Class 4A state championship tournament. The tournament gets going Friday morning and continues through Saturday at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.
The Hilltoppers are going into the state tournament fresh off their victory in the District 2-4A tournament last weekend. In what might be a first for the Hilltopper team, it qualified its entire contingent of 14 wrestlers for state.
Heading in, Los Alamos head coach Bob Geyer said he and the rest of his staff sat down Tuesday to figure out where his wrestlers may end up when the official draw is released tonight.
Taking into account winning percentages and head-to-head results with other Class 4A competitors, Los Alamos likes its chances of getting five individuals tagged with top-four seeds.
“It would be nice to be opposite the No. 1s more often,” Geyer said. “But I think we’ll be OK.”
Among those the team figures will be likely seeds are Chandler Lauritzen at 132 pounds, Lane Saunders at 152 pounds, 160-pounder Cory Geyer, 170-pounder Arnoldo Ortiz and Brian Geyer at 182 pounds.
Of those wrestlers, Cory Geyer, Ortiz, Lauritzen and Saunders won their weight classes at the district tournament last weekend in Española.
Brian Geyer ran into a very tough opponent in the final, Jonah Schmelz of Santa Fe.
Cory Geyer, a senior and two-time state placer, could well end up as the No. 1 seed in a crowded 160-pound field. Geyer has a stellar won-loss record of 34-4 this season, which works out to the best overall winning percentage in his weight class (.895).
Geyer, who will continue his wrestling career at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy next year, will still have to contend with some tough competition, not the least of which are Wyatt Hardy of Piedra Vista (30-10) and Danny Chavez of Belen (20-5).
Last season, he finished as the only placer for the Hilltoppers, taking third at 152 pounds.
If Geyer can make it all the way to the 4A crown, he will be the first Los Alamos wrestler since Seth Littleton in 1992 to win a state championship.
Littleton, a heavyweight wrestler in high school, recently joined the Los Alamos coaching staff.
Of the 10 wrestlers Los Alamos entered into state last year, only two came out of the first day unscathed.
Lauritzen (24-9), Saunders (31-7), Ortiz (17-3) and Brian Geyer (35-4) could all be in line for No. 4 seeds in their draws.
Saunders and Brian Geyer fell just one round short of a medal shot last year.
Team-wise, Piedra Vista appears to be the squad to beat heading into the 4A tournament. The Panthers have been among the top teams in the state all season and took 10 individual District 1-4A championships against a very tough field, which includes Aztec, one of the most decorated wrestling programs in New Mexico history.
Geyer said he thinks at least half his team should survive into Saturday’s competition and, if the team wrestles well, he estimates at least four of his wrestlers have legitimate shots at making the medal stand.