Sam Sandoval wins the 4A 126 pound state title on Saturday at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.
Sam Sandoval wins the 4A 126 pound state title on Saturday at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho. (Jesse Hankins -- Special to The Daily Times)

RIO RANCHO From the opening day of the wrestling season, Piedra Vista was expected to be the cream of the crop.

The Panthers proved Saturday just how good they are, sending 10 wrestlers to the finals and placing all 14 on the podium as they claimed their fourth straight 4A State Wrestling Championship at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.

PV set a team record in the state title meet with 323.5 points to finish well ahead of second-place Belen's total of 178.5.

"Everybody put in the maximum effort," PV head coach Levi Stout said. "I couldn't be prouder.

The Panthers split the 10 title matches, winning five and finishing second in five.

Piedra Vista’s Phillip Archuleta celebrates on Saturday after winning the 120-pound match at the 4A State Wrestling Championship at the Santa Ana
Piedra Vista's Phillip Archuleta celebrates on Saturday after winning the 120-pound match at the 4A State Wrestling Championship at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho. (Jesse Hankins/Special to The Daily Times)

Phillip Archuleta (120), Sam Sandoval (126) and Zach Ahlgrim (220) claimed their first individual titles for the Panthers.

"I'm proud of all of those guys," Stout said of his first-time title winners. "They've all deserved it for a couple of years now."

Archuleta needed a take down in the final period to defeat Deming's Angel Vigil 4-3 for the championship.

"That's the title I've been working so hard to get, and I finally got it in my junior year," Archuleta said.

Sandoval followed up Archuleta's win with his own victory, defeating District 1-4A rival Keishaun Aspaas of Kirtland Central 4-2.

"This means the world. I've been wrestling for 15 years, and this is my first state title at any level," Sandoval said. "I can't even explain how I feel right now."

Ahlgrim was PV's final competitor of the tournament and came out with possibly the most dramatic win of all, pinning Española Valley's Santiago Quintana in overtime.

"It was really fun and exciting," Ahlgrim said. "There was a ton of nerves going into the final, but I stuck with my stuff. This just shows how dedicated we are."

Anthony Juckes came in looking for his fourth individual title and ended up facing off in one of the more anticipated title matches of the touranment.

Farmington High School’s Tierney Staley celebrates winning the 182-pound match at the 4A State Wrestling Championship on Saturday at the Santa Ana
Farmington High School's Tierney Staley celebrates winning the 182-pound match at the 4A State Wrestling Championship on Saturday at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho. (Jesse Hankins/Special to The Daily Times)

Juckes defeated Capital's Isiah Anaya 4-2 with a take down in the late third period to come out on top of the 145-pound bracket.

Juckes and Anaya entered the match with just one loss each all season. Juckes pinned Anaya at the Aztec duals on Jan. 25 to give the Capital wrestler his first loss of the year. Anaya answered back the next week with a 4-2 win in the Robertson Invite.

Juckes moved up to the 145-pound weight class specifically to challenge himself against Anaya, who won a state championship in 2013.

"I've been training for this match," Juckes said. "He's a tough kid, and if you want to be the best, you have to wrestle the best. There's no way you'll get any better wrestling scrubs every week."

Piedra Vista’s Anthony Juckes celebrates winning the 145-pound match at the 4A State Wrestling Championship on Saturday at the Santa Ana Star Center
Piedra Vista's Anthony Juckes celebrates winning the 145-pound match at the 4A State Wrestling Championship on Saturday at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho. (Jesse Hankins/Special to The Daily Times)

Ryan Rino was victorious last season at 152 pounds for PV. This season, he dropped two weight classes to 138 pounds and came out with his second title.

"He's a team player," Stout said. "I asked him if he'd (drop weight classes) and he didn't hesitate."

Rino pinned Matt Lucero of Belen in the second period to lock up the individual title.

Rino said he came in extra motivated to beat Lucero after the Belen wrestler defeated him at the Robertson Invite on Feb. 1.

"This kid beat me earlier in the year, and I had to show him who I was," Rino said.

Eighth grader Wes Rayburn (113) and senior Dillon Strunk (152) placed second after running into two of the toughest wrestlers in the state.

Rayburn was pinned in the third period by Capital's Jose Tapia, who closed out a perfect 39-0 season with the win.

Strunk was also unable to stop a Jaguars' run to a perfect year, dropping a 6-3 decision to Ernesto Salvidez of Capital as he finished off a 45-0 season.

Wyatt Weaver battled through to the title match at 160 pounds, defeating top-seeded David Pardon of Deming in the semifinals, before falling in a tight 5-4 loss to Allen Michel of Moriarty.

Jacob Palmgren saw his bid for a third state title come up just short, finishing second after losing 3-1 to Anthony Sanchez of Del Norte in the 132-pound final.

Aaron Rino made the final of the 170-pound weight class before losing to top seeded Lane Saunders of Los Alamos 5-4.

Piedra Vista’s Ryan Rino celebrates winning the 138-pound match during the 4A State Wrestling Championship on Saturday at the Santa Ana Star Center
Piedra Vista's Ryan Rino celebrates winning the 138-pound match during the 4A State Wrestling Championship on Saturday at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho. (Jesse Hankins/Special to The Daily Times)

Alberto Marquez finished third at 182 pound for PV. Marquez lost his opening match of the tournament, then won six straight through the consolation bracket to end up on the podium.

"That was big time. He's just a sophomore," Stout said of Marquez. "He works so hard. He's not a big flashy guy but got it done."

Tristan Dwinell ended up fourth at 285 pounds, while Dylan Greenhaus (106) and Nick Varley (195) each placed sixth.

PV wrestlers weren't the only ones bringing back individual titles to Farmington as the Scorpions' Tierney Staley upset the top seed Michael Marez of Grants in the 182-pound bracket to win an individual championship for Farmington High.

"That was a blast. I had so much fun today," Staley said. "This whole high school career has been a blast. What more could I ask for?"

Cesar Haro placed second for FHS at 195 pounds, losing the final to Los Alamos' top seed Brian Geyer 7-0.

Cobey Hamblin placed third for FHS at 120 pounds.

"I'm very proud of the Scorpion wrestling program. We're on to something good," FHS head coach Jesus Mendoza said.

Aztec had three wrestlers place with Isaiah Valdez (145) taking fourth, Royal Yazzie (152) placing fifth and Orien Israel (182) finishing sixth.

Aspaas was the lone KCHS placer in second at 126 pounds.

FHS finished 10th as a team with 75 points. Aztec placed 14th with 55.5 and KCHS ended up in 20th with 35.

Joshua Perry can be reached at jperry@daily-times.com; 505-564-4577. Follow him on Twitter @jperrysuu.