RIO RANCHO — While all the teams in 4A are looking up at Piedra Vista in the team standings, wrestlers from Aztec, Kirtland Central and Farmington will all battle for individual state titles tonight.

Aztec sits in seventh place in the team standings with 67 points, but only 24 points separate the Tigers from third-place Belen after the first day.

The Tigers have three boys in the semifinals, and head coach Monte Maxwell likes all of their chances of reaching the state title match.

No. 1-seeded 170-pound Adam Lucero was a wrecking machine Friday as he scored a pin win and a 12-3 major decision in the quarterfinals against Bernalillo's Raymond Fasano.

He will have a good match in the semifinals against 21-3 Arnaldo Ortiz of Los Alamos, but if Lucero reaches the state title match he is guaranteed to face an opponent he has beaten at least once already this year.

On the other side of the bracket at 170 is Farmington's lone semifinalist Essiel Carrasco.

"It is our goal to be in the finals with Essiel. He wrestled his tail off in three matches today, and he wants it," said FHS assistant coach Jay Boushee. "He would love another shot at (Lucero). He is a senior, and it has been his goal all week. Now let's go get it."

Carrasco (25-5) will face Miyamura's Zac Canning (26-10) in the semifinals.


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Also in the mix for Aztec is Robert Escojeda (132) as he looks to get into the finals and face Piedra Vista's Anthony Juckes or Bernalillo's Wesley White if he can get past No. 2-seeded Matt Lucero of Belen.

"132 is so tough. Those semifinals are going to be hard for all four guys in it," Maxwell said. "There are no guarantees."

A match up with Juckes would be one of the most anticipated matches between two San Juan County wrestlers in a long time, and both boys hope to see each other.

Aztec's third semifinalist is senior Brad Hardin at 220 pounds.

Hardin hasn't wrestled since eighth grade, but he has made strides every match this season, and he aims to get one more shot at PV's Christian Acosta in the championship after the two wrestled into overtime in the district meet with Acosta coming out on top.

"I lost to the St. Pius kid I have in the semi finals in overtime earlier this year, but I feel like I have come a long way since then and it will be a different story this time," Hardin said. "I would love for my first year back and my last year in high school to get one more shot at (Acosta.) He is a great wrestler, and I would love to get after it and see what I can do."

Aztec still has all 10 wrestlers it carried to state wrestling today, and Maxwell is hopeful the team can make a push.

Kirtland Central started Friday on a tear, winning nearly every match it was in and earning pin victories.

But the Broncos couldn't pull it together in the consolation rounds late.

Now only four Broncos remain, but David White (113) and Keishaun Aspaas (120) are both in the semifinals, and Broncos' head coach JJ Sandoval is confident Sam Chee (145) can work his way back to a third-place finish.

Aspaas will face Los Lunbas's Ricardo Alvorado in the semifinals. Alvorado has beaten Aspaas three times this year, once by two points and twice by just one.

"He has had the close matches with him, and I think he will have some confidence that he can beat him this time," Sandovall said.

White will see No. 2-seeded Adrian George out of Santa Fe in what is expected to be a thrilling match.

White was outstanding Friday, earning two second round pin victories over Grant's Edward Woodbury and Belen's Chris Romero.