FARMINGTON — Farmington High has found a new varsity wrestling coach to replace Cecil Linnens.

Jesus Mendoza will take a step up from his youth level coaching duties to take over the Scorpions' wrestling room. He takes over for Linnens, who had coached Farmington High since 2003 before resigning this year following the state tournament.

“I am very excited to take the new role as the new varsity wrestling coach at Farmington,” Mendoza said. “I will be making several changes for the better, in my opinion, and I think once the athletes start noticing that they will come together for wrestling. My big push and No. 1 thing right now is to get our team to become one unit. I want them to come together and succeed as a team. I want to build to morale up in the room. Once the moral comes up, then we will start having success.”

Farmington had several applicants, but athletic director Don Lorett said Mendoza stood out laregly because of his experience working with youth wrestlers, especially at Tibbetts Middle School.

“He has been tied to the community for several years with the youth program at Tibbetts and as an assistant to FHS,” Lorett said. “The continuity he brings to the program and to the kids is great, and I feel like he has a good perspective on his expectations for the kids and the work ethic needed on the mat. I think he is a great fit for Scorpion wrestling.”

Mendoza grew up in the Farmington area and attended Heights Middle School before moving for the New Mexico Military Institute.

He wrestled for Farmington Youth Wrestling and for Heights.

He came up under coaches Leonard Mascarenas and Linnens.

“From them I took away what they have for building character in the athletes and the fact that you are a student-athlete in that order,” Mendoza said. “As far as style, I took away the hard work and actual toughness. I want to instill toughness in the wrestlers.”

Mendoza, who has spent 12 years coaching in Farmington on the youth level, said the biggest change to Farmington wrestling will be the coaching staff. He intends on replacing all of the assistants while relying heavily on Mascarenas as his right-hand man.

“I want to bring in all new coaches to help the program. The biggest change overall is the new faces on the staff. I think that will help us come together as a team,” Mendoza said. “Mascarenas is somebody who took care of me when I was younger. He is a great role model for me as a coach. He is a leader and a friend. He still helps guide me down the right path, and I am excited to work alongside him.”

Lorett is also excited about the changes to the coaching staff.

“He is in the process of putting together a pretty good staff with guys with a bunch of experience,” Lorett said. “Jesus understands it is not just about him. It will take a whole staff of coaches.”

San Juan County if full of wrestling talent, and Mendoza said he is excited to bring the Scorpions' program back up to the same level of the surrounding schools.

“Piedra Vista is a powerhouse, we all know that. They are the three-time defending state champs, but I feel like we have an up-and-coming squad with youngsters in there who will be in contention up there with PV, Aztec and Kirtland,” he said. “JJ Sandoval has a great program going at Kirtland and Monte Maxwell and Herb Stinson are doing great in Aztec. I think it is our turn to start rising to that level.”

John Livingston can be reached at jlivingston@daily-times.com; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.