FARMINGTON — Out of 16 teams, two Piedra Vista squads stood above the rest.
Piedra Vista's varsity wrestlers expected to reach the final dual of the Piedra Vista Panther Classic wrestling tournament on Saturday, but it was the junior varsity squad that made waves.
The junior varsity team, referred to as PV Silver, wrestled through the day and won its pool. In the semifinal dual, PV Silver defeated Bloomfield's varsity team 36-30 to reach the championship round against PV's three-time defending state champion varsity team, known as PV Blue.
Although the team knew what the outcome would be, they still wrestled the final round.
"It is good mat time for our guys. The best they will get in the tournament," said PV head coach Levi Stout. "Having them both get there is just a product of what we are doing in the room together through the week."
The varsity wrestlers, who won the tournament, were proud of the Silver team for reaching the final round.
"It is pretty cool for us to have JV and varsity in the finals. JV wrestled tough, and they beat all the other varsity teams to get there. It says a lot about those guys," said three-time state champion junior Anthony Juckes. "Most of the JV guys are just as tough as our varsity guys."
Stout was optimistic about the tournament going in and hoped a successful day would help build the team's unity as they approach an 82-team tournament in Reno, Nev. That tournament begins Dec. 26.
"There is no better way to build that chemistry than wrestling each other in the finals," Stout said.
PV's varsity team won the final dual with ease. Coaches for the teams sat out the final round, letting the kids settle things between themselves.
The lone junior varsity guy to win was Nick Rino, who defeated Phillip Archuleta 7-6 in the 126-pound weight class. Archuleta is a returning state placer from a year ago.
"Nick threw him for five (points) in the first. Phil tried to play catch up, but without a coach in his ear he made a few bad decisions and couldn't make up lost ground," Stout said.
Bloomfield is a top-five team in Class 3A. At Bloomfield's tournament last week, PV's junior varsity team took third place, and Stout believes that motivated the team to go out and beat the Bobcats this time around.
"A couple of those guys were bitter about losing to Bloomfield. They like to grind in practice, and they got after it this week," Stout said.
Former Piedra Vista wrestlers -- including 2011 state champion Nick Pacheco -- attended Saturday's tournament to watch the new generation.
"I remember when I started, we didn't even have a junior varsity team," Pacheco said.
Watching the JV team succeed gives the entire team confidence the program will continue to do bigger and better things.
"We could all leave, and our JV guys would be great," said PV varsity wrestler Dillon Strunk. "I started as an eighth grader, and that was the first time we won the Basin in middle school. We didn't have JV then, and we didn't even have wrestle-offs to earn our spot. It is amazing how fast this program has grown. Everyone wants to be state champs, but everyone is willing to put in the work for it. Our program is going to be strong for a long time."
Other notable matches of the day included PV's varsity squad defeating Aztec 51-9. PV's varsity team beat Moriarty 77-3, and Aztec defeated Moriarty 51-24.
PV varsity also shut out Gallup 79-0. In the semifinals, PV's varsity had no problem defeating Miyamura as they dropped only two matches and surrendered only 10 points to the Patriots.
Bloomfield finished third in the tournament after defeating Miyamura 42-26.
Most of the teams will have time off over the holiday break, but Piedra Vista will leave Christmas Day for Reno, Nev. Boys from both the Blue and Silver squads will make the trip.
"We still have improvements to make. There were some sloppy matches we can clean up. Reno will be good for us, and we will be ready to go in January when we get back," Stout said.John Livingston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.