Anthony Juckes had bigger goals than just a third-consecutive state championship as just a sophomore. He was going for the dream team.
Juckes, Piedra Vista's 132-pound 4A wrestling state champion, was named to the New Mexico Wrestling Dream Team.
Juckes is the second Piedra Vista wrestler to ever be named to the dream team, joining Chris Edwards who was selected at 126 pounds in 2011.
“It feels pretty awesome. I look up to (Edwards) a lot. He is a really good wrestler, and it is awesome being in the same boat,” Juckes said.
Juckes was also honored to be mentioned on a list that includes some of the wrestlers from across the state who he looks up to, including Wrestler of the Year Paul Mascarenas of Cleveland.
Mascarenas ended his career at Cleveland with four state titles, something only 16 others have done in New Mexico. He will attend South Dakota State in the fall.
Juckes was in the same weight class (113) with Mascarenas in 2012, and an head-to-head loss to Mascarenas during a dual meet helped fuel Juckes to work even harder.
“It feels good getting this dream team award, and it is a good year to start it for me. I knew last year I had no chance with Paul in my weight class,” Juckes said. “This year, the 5A kid from Rio Rancho won a lot of matches, but I know I am better.
“Paul is a tough kid to wrestle, and I like him a lot. He is a good guy and a great wrestler who I look up to. He is a technical guy I can learn a lot from. My match with him last year was bad, and I was just trying not to get pinned. I couldn't keep up with his pace or do anything, but wrestling someone of his caliber inspired me to shoot like him and get better on my feet like him. I am trying to mirror him. I definitely look up to Paul, and I want to take his place as wrestler of the year next year.”
Juckes has won state championships in three different weight classes now, taking the 103-pound title as an eighth grader. If he can win two more, Juckes would become just the fourth wrestler in New Mexico history to win five state titles.
“You can't argue much with having three state titles under your belt, especially doing it in three different weight classes,” said PV head coach Levi Stout. “He beat a kid in the finals (Robert Escojeda, Aztec) who beat him earlier in the year. That helps get you votes.”
Juckes said he lost more matches this season than in his eighth grade and freshman seasons combined, but the level of competition he faced was better this year than ever before.
When Juckes entered the PV wrestling room as an eighth grader, Stout said he would have been happy for Juckes to medal in his first season. Instead, he began a road few get to travel with the chance to become a five-time state champion.
“We knew his heart was in the right spot, and we knew he had a lot of mat experience,” Stout said. “We didn't expect the title, though. He went and got the job done as an eighth grader, and he has continued to be a blessing since then. He came back as a freshman with all the confidence of a returning state champ, and that helps a lot.”
Juckes said the dream team recognition is proof of his hard work.
“To be up there with the good wrestlers makes me feel good because I know I work as hard as those guys,” he said. “They go to more tournaments and have more name recognition, but I work just as hard as them.”
Juckes was PV's only dream team selection this year despite the Panthers taking five individual state championships.
Jacob Palmgren, a junior 120-pound wrestler, went 38-0 in his first year at PV after winning a state title for Del Norte High School in Colorado as a sophomore.
Voted ahead of Palmgren was Richard (Rico) Montoya of Robertson High.
Montoya placed third at the National High School Coaches Association tournament and fourth at the Freak Show national tournament, helping him earn the nod.
“Being a first-year kid out of Colorado, I think people avoided him so he didn't have the toughest matches at state,” Stout said. “You see that a lot. When there is a really tough kid, the rest of the state will go below or above him to try to get a state title of their own. That's what happened with Jacob. Being from Colorado, he wasn't looked at as much as Montoya.
“I don't know if those two will be same weight next year, but I want my guys to wrestle the best. We are going to try to wrestle him this summer or next year.”
Stout was also left on the list as Cleveland's Corey Anderson was named coach of the year.
Stout coached his team to a third consecutive 4A state title while placing 13 wrestlers and coaching five state champions.
He coached PV to a team score of 314.5 points at the state tournament, 132 points ahead of second place Los Lunas.
“I feel like coach of the year, and I think that is enough,” Stout said. “Scoring 314.5 points I think says it all. My kids got recognized, and that is what I am there for."
Juckes felt his coach was deserving of the honor.
"Stout is an amazing coach. He works us very hard and does everything he can to make sure we get tough tournaments on our schedule," Juckes said. "That is what great coaches do. With us scoring as high as we did and having five state champs, he should be coach of the year."
NM Dream Team
106- Dylan Udero Las Cruces HS
113- Paul Mascarenas Cleveland HS
120- Richard Montoya Robertson HS
126- DeShaun Brown West Mesa HS
132- Anthony Juckes Piedra Vista HS
138- Lawrence Otero Volcano Vista HS
145- Dyon Santiago Albuquerque HS
152-Miguel Barreras Rio Rancho HS
160- Koery Windham St. Michaels HS
170- Arturo Vigil Cleveland HS
182- Ricky Bencomo Silver City HS
195- Dakota Bencomo Silver City HS
220- Clayton Pankey Cleveland HS
285- Andres Blea St. Michaels HS
NWCA Wrestler of the Year: Paul Mascarenas Cleveland High School
NWCA Coach of the Year: Corey Anderson Cleveland High School