Bobcats rally past KC, win District 1-4A duals
KIRTLAND – The Bloomfield wrestling team deflated the fans at Bronco Arena on Friday by roaring back from a 30-16 deficit to oust Kirtland Central in the championship of the District 1-4A duals.
As expected, Bloomfield and KC both got past Shiprock, Newcomb and Wingate on Friday afternoon to set up the showdown. KC had the Bobcats on the ropes until Bloomfield won five straight matches to earn the 38-30 win and claim the district crown.
Bloomfield went 4-0 in the meet while the Broncos finished 3-1. Shiprock, which beat Newcomb and Wingate, ended up with a 2-2 record.
Berry Tom was the last Bronco wrestler to gain a victory in the final dual, defeating David DeHerrera in a hard-fought heavyweight battle. After that, Michael DeHerrera (285), Gerald Wiza (106), Christian Robison (113) Luke Whitley (120) and Levi Whitley (126) came up big by winning their respective matches.
Bobcats coach Greg Shoemaker said his wrestlers fed off each other and gained confidence with every win.
"We really turned the corner in the (Michael) DeHerrera match, and the guys started to build momentum from there," he said. "They kept coming back. When it came down to the wire, they did what they had to do to win."
KC coach JJ Sandoval made two lineup adjustments that paid off in the final: He put Kyle Jim (145) at a size disadvantage by having him wrestle someone who outweighed him, while sending Cody Manuelito (170) down a few pounds for his match. Both wrestlers scored wins.
Sandoval pointed to the 106-pound match between Luke West and Bloomfield's Gerald Wiza as the turning point of the dual.
"Gerald won the first time they wrestled this year, and then the second time, Luke wrestled him super, super tough and won — he was in control the whole time," Sandoval said. "And so, I was kind of counting on him to win, but he fell short."
With the victory, Bloomfield now has a record of 3-1 against KC this season. The Broncos' lone win came during the Dual in the Dunes in Gallup, which was the first meet of the season.
Shoemaker said he has a lot of respect for KC's team.
"They match up really well against us. It always makes for some tough matches," he said. "I think the best teams in 4A are us, them, Cobre, Silver and Robertson."
Wiza, Robison, Corbin Nelson, JD Robinson, Avery Scott, Luke and Levi Whitley and Michael DeHerrera all went undefeated for the Bobcats.
Leading the way for KC with unbeaten records on Friday were Tom, Manuelito, Jim, Keishaun Aspaas, Jean Cockrell and Cadyn Hartsfield.
Shiprock assistant coach Sean Hayes said the Chieftains went into Friday's duals "with a clear mind," but without wrestlers in every weight class, he knew the team's ceiling was low.
The Chieftains lost big to both KC and Bloomfield. Top wrestler Zelldan Clark (160) went 2-2 on the day.
Hayes said he thinks that because he doesn't have a full-sized roster, his team is better suited to find success at individual tournaments rather than dual meets. The Chieftains will get a chance to prove him right when Shiprock hosts the District 1-4A individual tourney on Friday.
"I feel like we competed well in all those individual tournaments in Arizona, and that's going to pay off next week," he said. "It's kind of like turning in rough draft after rough draft, and now the final paper is due at this district tournament. So we'll try to have a great week of practice and go get after it."
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.