No team in District 1-4A could catch the Piedra Vista Panthers on Saturday, and the rest of the team scores played out just as many expected.
Aztec placed second with 142 team points, ahead of Kirtland Central's 105 and Farmington's 75.
“We were pretty much where we figured we would be going into state,” said Aztec head coach Monte Maxwell.
The Tigers qualified 10 boys for the state tournament, but the third-place Broncos qualified 11.
“We should have had two more. We were winning a couple of matches where we ended up getting pinned. We had a legit shot at 14, but should be taking 13 at least,” said Kirtland Central head coach JJ Sandoval. “It is still a step up from last year. Last year we took eight and my first year here we only had four.”
The Farmington Scorpions will take seven boys to state this year.
Winning district titles for Aztec were Isaiah Valdez (145), Adam Lucero (170) and Austin Wagner (182).
“Lucero is ready. This is his last chance to win state, and he is putting everything he has into it,” Maxwell said.
Placing second was Dillon Blue (106), Robert Escojeda (132), Royal Yazzie (138), Justis Francisco (160) Brad Hardin (220) and Landon McNeil (285).
Aztec had just one third place finisher, Jesse Ridgley at 120 pounds.
Kirtland Central had just one champion, David White at the 113-pound classification.
White defeated Piedra Vista's Philip Archuleta in a 9-5 decision a week after losing to Archuleta in overtime.
“It felt pretty good. I just wanted to score a bunch of points,” White said. “Conditioning helped me a lot, and I was pretty confident I could last all six minutes with him.”
Kirtland had two second place finishers, Keishaun Aspaas (120) and Virgil Morgan (195).
With eight boys placing third, Sandoval is optimistic about the numbers he can place at state.
“The kids we are taking who I think can place, most of them have been to state before,” Sandoval said. “Last year, I thought Sam Chee was going to place, but he went down and went 0-2. Then kids we beat in district ended up placing down there. Hopefully this year he can bring back a medal. Realistically, White could get in the finals at state, Aspaas could get in the finals, Chee will be tough and Morgan will have a good opportunity to place. Romi Hogue at 152 and Aaron Frank have outside shots at 160, too.”
Sandoval was hopeful the Broncos could take second ahead of the Tigers, but three matches went against him Saturday.
“We lost to Aztec by 37 points. If we win those thre matches we dropped to Aztec, it is a 30-point swing. We are right there fighting if we do that, but I hope it opens their eyes and they know they can compete. We have obviously wrestled the best team in the state in PV, and Aztec is definitely a top-three team in 4A, so just for us to get out of district is tough.”
Farmington's went without a district champ, but Brandon Padilla (126), Tierney Staley (152) and Essiel Carrasco (170) all reached the finals before losing.
“Padilla knows what he has to work on. He will hit it hard Monday and be ready to go Friday,” said FHS assistant coach Jay Boushee. “For Staley, he is excited to be going back to state. He had a year away with an injury, and now he is back where he needs to be.”
Coming up big with third-place finishes were Francisco Alvarez (132), Omar Ramirez (195) and Orlando Contreras (220).
“Contreras came out last weekend and asked if he could come out and wrestle. He hasn't wrestled since eighth grade, but he filled a hole for us nicely,” Boushee said. “Those heavier weight guys were a big plus for us today.”
Cobey Hamblin (113) also took third for the Scorps.
“It was a bit of a setback for him today, but we are taking some great kids from this district to state at 113,” Boushee said. “He has a big opportunity to place at state.”
Boushee is happy with the group going to state, and he hopes it serves as a big learning lesson for the younger guys making the trip.
“It is a building block. For a kid like Francisco, we can watch and see him improve. He will be at the state tournament for the next couple years and will keep improving. This trip will give him a backbone,” Boushee said.
District 1-4A Wrestling
1. Piedra Vista 231.5
2. Aztec High 142
3. Kirtland Central 105
4. Farmington 75
1. Sam Sandoval, Piedra Vista
2. Dillon Blue, Aztec
3. Glen Allen, Kirtland Central
1. David White, Kirtland Central
2. Philip Archuleta, Piedra Vista
3. Cobey Hamblin, Farmington
1. Jacob Palmgren, Piedra Vista,
2. Keishaun Aspaas, Kirtland Central
3. Jesse Ridgely, Aztec
1. Ryan Ruybalid, Piedra Vista
2. Brandon Padilla, Farmington
3. Emmanuel Simpson, Kirtland Central
1. Anthony Juckes, Piedra Vista
2. Robert Escojeda, Aztec
3. Francisco Alvarez, Farmington
1. Wyatt Weaver, Piedra Vista
2. Royal Yazzie, Aztec
3. Bryceson Arthur, Kirtland Central
1. Isaiah Valdez, Aztec
2. Dillon Strunk, Piedra Vista
3. Sam Chee, Kirtland Central
1. Ryan Rino, Piedra Vista
2. Tierney Staley, Farmington
3. Romi Hogue, Kirtland Central
1. Wyatt Hardy, Piedra Vista
2. Justis Francisco, Aztec
3. Aaron Frank, Kirtland Central
1. Adam Lucero, Aztec
2. Essiel Carrasco, Farmington
3. Alberto Marquez, Piedra Vista
1. Austin Wagner, Aztec
2. John Ellsaesser, Piedra Vista
3. Josh Netzer, Kirtland Central
1. Zach Ahlgrim, Piedra Vista
2. Virgil Morgan, Kirtland Central
3. Omar Ramirez, Farmington
1. Christian Acosta, Piedra Vista
2. Brad Hardin, Aztec
3. Orlando Contreras, Farmington
1. Kason Wilkinson, Piedra Vista
2. Landon McNeil, Aztec
3. Richard Garcia, Kirtland Central