Panthers place second at Cardinal Classic

Karl Schneider, and Jake Newby
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON – The Piedra Vista wrestling team got a good look this weekend at some of the top competition the Panthers will face as they try for their sixth straight state title next month.

The Panthers came in second at the Cardinal Classic, hosted by Robertson, in Las Vegas, N.M., finishing 10 points behind Belen's mark of 336 points.

Los Lunas finished third with 242 points, followed by Robertson (236) and Capital (228.5) rounding out the top five. Point totals for teams outside the top five were not available.

“It was good to see those 5A teams that we’re going to see in three weeks,” PV head coach Michael Bejar said, referring to the state tournament Feb. 19-20 in Rio Rancho. “We’ll have to go back and make some adjustments so we can continue to progress.”

PV edged Belen 294.5-283 for the 5A title last year.

In the gold bracket, Wes Rayburn (138) and Dylan Greenhaus (120) won their weight class, while Hosman Caraveo (152) placed second. Rayburn picked up the title over Farmington’s Traedan Allison.

Farmington head coach Jesus Mendoza said it was a good weekend for the Scorps, who, along with Allison’s second-place finish in the gold bracket, saw five wrestlers finish in the top four of the silver bracket.

Aztec head coach Monte Maxwell said it was a tough weekend for the Tigers, who finished outside the top five, but that there is still time to improve before the state tournament.

Cody Candelaria, Austin Littlefield and Josh Snow all finished third in their respective weight class for Aztec in the gold bracket.

Eight Bloomfield wrestlers made it into the gold bracket, and four of them placed. Avery Scott (152) won his weight class by pinning PV's Caraveo in the sudden-death overtime session of the final match.

Levi Whitley (126), JD Robinson (182) and David DeHerrera (220) all placed third.

Bobcats coach Greg Shoemaker said he thought his team fared well against other Class 4A competition.

"We were hovering around fifth or sixth for most of (Saturday) until a couple teams started passing us late," he said. "But we wrestled well against other 4A teams. Most of our losses came against 5A."

Berry Tom went 7-0 on the weekend to win the gold bracket's 220-pound weight class for Kirtland Central.

"Berry beat some good kids — some state placers from Roswell and Belen," KC coach JJ Sandoval said. "He's one of those guys that's kind of been our hammers this year, along with Aidan (Cockrell). They've just consistently gotten the job done."

Cockrell had to be pulled from the meet on Friday with an undisclosed injury.

Sandoval said the competition was stiff in Las Vegas.

"Out of the 27 teams, we probably finished somewhere in the middle of the pack," he said. "This tournament's a grind every year. It's really intense."

Shiprock competed in Heber, Ariz., in the Mogollon Invitational on Friday and Saturday.

Against 21 solid programs from all over Arizona, the Chieftains had a rough go of it as a team and were unable to crack the top 15.

But they did bring two placers back to Shiprock in Zelldan Clark (160), who took fifth, and Latrell Ben (145), who earned sixth.

Clark had been undefeated in regular-season meets until Saturday, when he lost twice. Shiprock assistant coach Sean Hayes said he thinks losing now may be a good thing for his talented sophomore.

"Although he tasted defeat for the first time this year, we think it made him an even better wrestler for us," Hayes said. "He got those jitters out the way after his loss and wrestled like he had nothing to lose after that."

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.

Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.