Bobcats sit in third at 4A state tourney

Jake Newby
Bloomfield's Jonathan Begaii maintains controls of Shiprock's Latrell Ben in their 145-pound match Friday during the 4A state tournament at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.

RIO RANCHO – The Bloomfield wrestling team advanced nine of its 14 wrestlers to the semifinals of the 4A state wrestling tournament on Friday, but the Bobcats will have a tough time catching up to first-place Cobre in today's final day of competition.

Bloomfield tallied 63 points, good enough for third place out of 13 schools. Ahead of the Bobcats are Silver, which is in second with 67.5, and Cobre, which nabbed first with 81.5 after one day of action at the Santa Ana Star Center.

Kirtland Central enters today with 43 points — 14 back of fourth-place Robertson. Shiprock sits just a half point out of sixth with 34.

All 14 of Bloomfield's wrestlers are still active going into the second day, as the five who lost in the quarterfinals did not lose in either of the two consolation rounds.

JD Robinson (182 pounds), David DeHerrera (220), Michael DeHerrera (285), Levi Whitley (126), Christian Robison (113), Corbin Nelson (132), Jonathan Begaii (145), Avery Scott (152) and Diego O'Neill (138) are the nine Bobcats in the semis.

Cobre advanced 12 of its 14 wrestlers to the semis, but Bloomfield coach Greg Shoemaker is optimistic that his team can climb back into the state title hunt today.

"I was real pleased. There are always little things that happen, but overall, I feel good," Shoemaker said. "Cobre had quite a few byes, but they're looking good anyway. Most guys are keeping up with their seeds, so I think we can get right back into this thing."

Bobcat freshman Gerald Wiza (106) came into the quarterfinals with a 25-14 record before being upset by Christopher Valencia of Taos. Valencia's record sat at 14-14 until he topped Wiza via decision, 6-3. Shoemaker said his 106-pounder looked a little nervous in his first taste of state competition.

"That's a freshman, man," he said. "He had the jitters. I'm not disappointed. That's just something that happens on this stage. He'll be back, plenty of times."

Wiza and four other Bobcats will try and bounce back in the consolation bracket, and they all have a solid shot at third place in their respective weight class.

Like its rival Bloomfield, Kirtland Central qualified 14 wrestlers for state, but only four of those will be active in the winners bracket today.

KC's big four of Aidan Cockrell (138), Keishaun Aspaas (145), Cody Manuelito (170) and Berry Tom (220) made relatively quick work of their opponents by scoring victories by fall.

Kirtland Central's Keishaun Aspaas pins Pecos' Orlando Romero Friday in their 145-pound quarterfinal match during the 4A state tournament at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.

KC coach JJ Sandoval said he would have liked to have sent a couple of more wrestlers to the semis, but can't be too mad at his team's prospects in today's semifinal matches.

"Those guys who didn't come through, they've got to come up through the backside and try to finish third for us," Sandoval said. "With the four that are in the semis, each one of them can really make the finals and be state champs. But they're going to have to wrestle their butts off to do it."

Ten other KC wrestlers will vie for third in the consolation rounds today. The only two Broncos who have been eliminated are Dominique Benally (120) and Cassidy Tsosie (113). A right arm injury just 34 seconds into his opening bout forced Tsosie to forfeit out of the quarterfinals. Though he was pinned in the second consolation round, he fought through the injury and finished his last match.

Shiprock's three biggest wrestlers — Zander Dale (170), Logan Charley (195) and Verl Barney (285) — got the job done on the first day by winning their matches and moving on to the semis.

The Chieftains qualified nine competitors in the District 1-4A Duals last Friday, then had three wild cards get selected earlier this week.

After settling for 12th place last year, Shiprock assistant coach Sean Hayes said he can't be too upset with his team's current seventh-place standing.

"Last year, we didn't do as good as we should have," Hayes said. "So going in, we spoke to each kid to let them know that what you put out is what you get in."

Shiprock has four wrestlers remaining in the consolation bracket.

Hayes said he's excited to see what Barney, Charley and Dale can do in the semifinals.

"Having three in the semis is a real treat," he said. "It's every coach's dream to get kids into the finals, and we are one win away from doing that three times."

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