FARMINGTON — After playing a large role as an emotional leader on the defense that won Farmington High a state football championship, Tierney Staley brought that winning formula into the wrestling season.
Staley, competing for the first time this season, won the 182-pound weight class at the 22-team Al Salazar Invitational hosted by St. Michael's on Saturday in Santa Fe.
He won three matches at the tournament, capped by pinning Rio Rancho's RaySean Marchi in the third period of the final.
Staley has jumped three weight classes to 182 pounds in his final year after completing at 152 pounds last season. He said the class is a better fit for him and he's enjoying it, so far.
"I noticed that I'm a little bit faster than some of these guys. I feel that I can contend," he said. "Last year, I was a little above (weight) at 152 and had to cut to get down. I weighed in down there at 176. It's a big jump but it's actually been a lot of fun."
FHS head coach Jesus Mendoza said he was on board with Staley's move to a heavier weight class and is expecting a strong season from the senior after his good start.
"It was a very tough competition. For not wrestling all year and coming in midseason, it was very impressive," Mendoza said. "He chose to stay at 182 and he wants to go against the best competition. This year, I think he has a very good chance of finishing very high at the state championship. The kid is aggressive, smart and experienced. He's very composed and that gives him an advantage."
The Scorpion senior sees football and wrestling as complimentary sports and believes playing both is a big part of why he has been successful.
"Everyone that came off the football team knows the work ethic it takes to win," said Staley, who recorded two interceptions in the title game victory against Goddard. "I take the physicality aspect from both. They really help each other out. I think more kids playing either football or wrestling need to look into playing the other. Football is a big reason why I'm wrestling at 182 because of lifting and workouts we did."
Staley's work ethic and leadership ability have motivated others in the wrestling room, and Mendoza, in his first season as head coach, said the senior is an important asset.
"He's leading the team 110 percent right now with his energy and enthusiasm. It helps me quite a bit," Mendoza said. "He's with the kids all day and knows how they act. He's the somebody who can guide them and lead them."
Staley went 1-2 at the state championship meet last season, but after the good start, he believes he can earn a spot on the podium by staying loose.
"The big thing is not putting pressure on myself. I just need to go out and have fun. That's why we do this. Sports are supposed to be fun," he said. "I know some people around the area want to make it so serious sometimes but I'm just going to have fun with it."
Staley is enjoying his final season competing for the Scorpions and can't wait to see what the rest of the school year has in store for him and FHS.
"I just make the most of it," he said. "Same thing after wrestling, just go into track and make the most of it. There's no reason to hold anything back."
10 questions with Tierney Staley
Favorite food to eat if front of teammates who are trying to cut weight: My mom always packs me breakfast burritos. I eat that in front of everyone, and they get pretty mad about it.
Dream vacation spot: Hawaii.
Favorite movie: Hot Tub Time Machine.
What is your favorite and least favorite class: My favorite class is English and my least favorite has to be stats.
Favorite music to listen to before a game or match: I always like to listen to dubstep and a little bit of dance music, because there's a lot of energy.
Dream Car: Anything's better than what I'm driving now. Probably a Lamborghini.
Favorite athlete: Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.
What are your plans after high school: I plan on going down to NMSU and studying communication.
If you could have any superpower, which one would you pick: I'd want super farts, just the ability to make them really stinky.
What would you do if you won the lottery: Take (Daily Times photographer Megan Farmer) on a date.