FARMINGTON — Piedra Vista once again proved it has the No. 1 wrestling team in the state of New Mexico on Saturday.
The PV Panthers walked right through their opponents at the Hi-Country Chevy Tiger Duals inside Lillywhite Gymnasium in Aztec. PV defeated Capital 52-21 before beating Cleveland 43-18 to take first-place in the 12-team varsity tournament. As a team, the Panthers are still undefeated in the state this year.
"We felt like it was a statement match," PV head coach Levi Stout said of the dual-match with Cleveland. "Cleveland is a great team. Score-wise, it looks fantastic for us. I think people know we are for real. We are here to stay."
Anthony Juckes, a three-time state champion in his junior season at PV, highlighted the day with two wins at 145 pounds, which was a jump up in weight classes. Looking to face tougher competition than he was seeing at 138 pounds, Stout granted his request to wrestle at 145 pounds on Saturday.
Juckes responded with another perfect day, including wins against Capital's Isaiah Anaya and Cleveland's Jesse Nieto. Anaya defeated Nieto via a 4-1 decision when they met up, and Juckes responded by pinning Anaya in the second round of their matchup.
Juckes finished off his big day with a 5-2 decision victory against Nieto in the final match of the meet.
"I had a lot of fun. I got to see competition I wouldn't see at 138 pounds this year unless (Robertson's Rico Montoya) jumped up in weight classes. Other than that, I won't see anyone super tough at 138," Juckes said. "Anaya and Nieto were tough and strong. It was nice to face that and get to wrestle tough kids like them."
Ryan Rino made the cut down to 138 pounds as Stout shuffled the lineup once again this season. Stout was pleased with what he saw out of Rino at 138 and Juckes at 145, and he believes the switch may be permanent.
"Juckes sent a statement and convinced me into leaving him at 145. Rino looked great at 138, too," Stout said. "Guys have been sacrificing all year on our team. We probably have three 145-pound guys. One is going down, one is going up and the other is at 145. It is the same thing at lower weight with Sam Sandoval. We have a lot of guys sacrificing, and it says a lot about their character and what they will give to the team rather than themselves."
Dillon Strunk, Dylan Greenhaus, Philip Archuleta, Wyatt Weaver, Zach Ahlgrim and Tristan Dwinell all had great afternoons for the Panthers. Dwinell surprised at heavyweight winning both of his matches against Capital and Cleveland. Greenhaus beat one of the top 106-pound wrestlers in the state from Cleveland in a 2-0 decision.
"We are all feeling good. We are finding ourselves. Practices are going well, and we are drilling hard," Weaver said. "It was great mat time against Capital and Cleveland. We really wanted to go strong against them. We knew the guys from ZiaWrestler.com were watching today, and we wanted to make it clear we are still the No. 1 team. We will go back to work Monday to be ready to beat every other team there is."
Cleveland finished second at the meet, and Capital took third. Bloomfield finished in fourth place after defeating Kirtland Central, Mancos, Colo., Aztec and Farmington. The Bobcats' lone loss was to Capital.
"We had some guys out and other kids filled in and wrestled strong," said Bloomfield head coach Greg Shoemaker. "JD Robinson looked great for us. Donnie Trujillo stepped up and wrestled well, and Paul Jaramillo looked great. I was really impressed with what David DeHerrera did at 220 for us, too."
Bloomfield beat Aztec 54-28 and Farmington 48-29. Aztec finished the day with a 47-33 win against Farmington.John Livingston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.