Piedra Vista places second in Panther Classic

Bloomfield, Kirtland Central and Farmington follow PV in top five

Jake Newby

FARMINGTON — The Piedra Vista wrestling team learned firsthand why Cleveland is ranked No. 1 in New Mexico on Saturday at the Panther Classic.

PV won four dual matches on Saturday before falling to Cleveland 50-18 in the finals at the Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse in Farmington.

After besting Mancos, Colo., Whitehorse, Utah, Miyamura and Kirtland Central, the Panthers just didn't do enough as a team to overcome Cleveland.

"If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. They're the top team in the state for a reason," PV coach Michael Bejar said. "But I do think it was good for us to see that good of a team at this point in the season."

Nick Rino (145) and Taylor Atencio (132) both went 5-0 for PV on Saturday. Rino scored a technical fall in the third round of his bout against Cleveland's Shawn Nieto. He said he was determined to finish the day strong.

Piedra Vista's Nick Rino, top, wrestles in the finals of the Panther Classic against Cleveland on Dec. 19 at the Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse in Farmington.

"(Fellow Panther) Wes (Rayburn) beat (Nieto) last week, and that kind of pumped me up," Rino said. "So I went in there with the mindset that I can't be taken down, I can't be scored on."

Rino said the lopsided loss his team suffered stings, but the Panthers should grow from it.

"Cleveland coming in and beating us that bad, it sucked. It was a punch in the face, but our team can come together," he said. "We need to. We can't give up falls or bonus points like that. Those were huge throughout the match."

Bejar said he didn't think any particular weight class or match led to his team's downfall. But he said his team has to do more going forward.

"All of them were important for us. We have to win as a team," Bejar said. "We didn't have enough urgency today."

Bloomfield went 4-1, beating Piedra Vista Silver, Gallup and Bayfield, Colo., before losing to Cleveland. The Bobcats did have some bright spots against the Storm, earning three pins. Bloomfield then bounced back by beating district rival Kirtland Central 54-24 in the third-place dual.

"We battled all day for everything we got," Bloomfield coach Greg Shoemaker said. "The staff's been working hard to get everything done with these guys. The kids have shown improvement."

Avery Scott (145) was outstanding, according to Shoemaker. Angel Rivera (195) hyperextended his elbow Saturday, but wrestled through it to help the Bobcats top KC.

Shoemaker said he felt good about his team, which he thinks hasn't hit its peak.

Bloomfield's Levi Whitley turns Kirtland Central's Brad Benally on his back in the Panther Classic on Saturday at the Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse in Farmington.

"We're still ironing some things out, but the team did really well," he said. "It was fun watching them out there. And at the end of the day, that's what it's all about."

Kirtland Central coach JJ Sandoval said his team looked good at times, but still has plenty of areas where it can improve.

"We wrestled (Bloomfield) tough at a lot of weights, but we gotta get better technically so that we can finish matches and not give up cheap points," Sandoval said.

KC was without five regular varsity wrestlers on Saturday and had to use a couple of eighth-graders. The Broncos beat Ignacio, Colo., Cleveland's junior varsity team and Grants, but lost to PV and Bloomfield.

Berry Tom (220) and Cody Manuelito (170) shined for Kirtland on the day with 5-0 records.

Farmington wrestled a tough dual against Miyamura on Saturday evening to clinch fifth place in the Panther Classic. The Scorpions were led by eighth-grader Trevor Scholfield (106), who went undefeated, and Kameron Schrock (220).

FHS coach Jesus Mendoza was also proud of Aaron Newlon (152).

"Aaron wrestled really, really tough today," Mendoza said. "He did a lot of hard work for us."

After defeating Dolores and Los Alamos, Farmington beat Bayfield, Colo., 39-32 and Miyamura 42-33 in a hard-fought fifth-place dual. Its only loss came at Cleveland's hands.

Mendoza said his team showed him a lot on the day.

"I'm very excited for the performance of the entire team. They worked hard, and they never quit," he said. "To lose only one dual out of the five is tremendous to us."

Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.