RIO RANCHO – The Piedra Vista wrestling team entered the final day of the 2016 state tournament with a chance to win its sixth straight state title, but another blue trophy wasn’t meant to be for the Panthers.
PV started the day 4 points back of Belen, but the Eagles dominated the second day to win the title with 272 points at the Santa Ana Star Center Saturday. PV finished second with 222.5 points.
“It’s not what we wanted. It hurts,” PV head coach Michael Bejar said. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for the kids and our individual champs — that’s huge. I’m proud of these guys. But the bottom line is we have to work harder.”
PV sent five wrestlers — Dylan Greenhaus (120), Taylor Atencio (132), Wes Rayburn (138), Nick Rino (145) and Alberto Marquez (195) — to the finals. Greenhaus, Rayburn, Rino and Marquez earned individual titles, with Greenhaus and Marquez both pinning their opponent.
No one could contend with Greenhaus during the weekend. The senior won by pin in his four matches, and the 58-second pin in the finals was his longest match of the tourney.
“I’ve put a lot of work into this sport, and it’s nice finally getting what I’ve been working for since I was a fifth-grader. Falling short the last two years really sucked, but I kept my fire — what a senior year,” said Greenhaus, who lost in the semifinals the last two seasons. “I’m not going to compete on a mat again. That was my last match, and I went out with a bang. This doesn’t even feel real right now.”
Rayburn, a sophomore, won his second title in as many years, picking up a 9-6 decision over Belen’s Chris Robinson.
“I said that Alberto was our quiet assassin, Wes is our quiet executioner,” Bejar said. “He goes neglected (by the coaches) sometimes because we know he’s going to get the work done. He works his tail off every day in practice and is a great leader.”
Rino also picked up his second straight title with a 10-3 decision over Aztec’s Austin Littlefield. Prior to the match, the two rivals stood across the mat from each other, staring the other down for several seconds before the referee called them to the center to begin.
“That pumped me up,” Rino said of the stare down. “I was ready. Staring him down like that pumped me up and got me ready. My coaches prepared me for the match, and I felt like I couldn’t have been more prepared, and the outcome was perfect.”
Marquez said getting the fall for the title ranks as his best experience on the mat.
Also finishing on the podium for the Panthers was Hosman Caraveo (152) in third, Sergio Quintana (160) in fourth, Marcos Candelaria (126) and Adrian Tarwater (220) in fifth, and Diego Sanchez-Morales (106) and Jared Terry (285) in sixth place.
Aztec finished the weekend fifth with 139.5 points, improving on last year’s 10th-place finish.
“We made a few mistakes in some matches, but, overall, we’re pleased,” Aztec head coach Monte Maxwell said. “We feel really good about the future. ... It’s a big move for our team, and we’re returning the majority of our team.”
Littlefield was the top finisher for the Tigers. Josiah Griego (106) and Cody Candelaria (120) finished third, Tyler Robeson (285) placed fourth, Brandon Trennepohl (132), Josh Snow (160) and Dylan Sutherland (195) placed fifth, and Melvin Benally (182) finished sixth. Benally advanced to the semifinals on Friday, but suffered a knee injury in his final match Friday and was unable to compete Saturday, forfeiting his matches.
After a down season last year that saw Farmington finish in 17th place, the Scorps returned to form this season and finished eighth.
“I’m very proud of the entire team,” FHS head coach Jesus Mendoza said. “We battled all year long and had some tournaments where we didn’t do too well, but one of our goals was to finish top 10, and we finished eighth. It’s a really good feeling to reach that goal.”
Farmington finished the tournament with three wrestlers on the podium, led by senior Kameron Schrock’s third-place finish at 220 pounds.
“It sucked losing in the quarterfinals (on Friday), but I had to do everything I could to come back and show my team not to give up no matter what happens and be a role model,” Schrock said.
Aaron Newlon (152) placed fourth and Traedan Allison (138) finished sixth.
After the strong finish this season, Mendoza is looking forward to what the Scorps will be able to do next year. Of the 13 wrestlers Farmington sent to Rio Rancho, Schrock was the only senior, setting up the team for a wealth of returners and experience next year.
“We’re bringing back guys like Newlon and Allison, and talking about youngsters, we had two guys who made it to the second day as eighth-graders,” Mendoza said. “Some of the good things are they’re hungry and have a lot of energy. I’m excited and really looking forward to it.”
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.