Scott, Robinson lead Bloomfield to second in 4A
Bobcats claim second, KC gets fifth and Shiprock earns eighth in state wrestling tournament
RIO RANCHO — Led by individual state champions JD Robinson (182 pounds) and Avery Scott (152), the Bloomfield wrestling team exceeded coach Greg Shoemaker's preseason expectations by placing second at the 4A state tournament this weekend at Santa Ana Star Center.
"Earlier today, I ran into a former coach at Miyamura who saw us in back in December, and today he said, 'Wow, you guys are in second?'" Shoemaker said. "I told him we had a good program. It was just about getting everyone focused and on the right page."
Bloomfield finished 57.5 points behind Cobre, this year's 4A state champion. Kirtland Central entered the day at fifth place, and that's where the Broncos finished, led by back-to-back state champion Aidan Cockrell.
Shiprock fell back one spot from Friday and settled for eighth. Logan Charley (195) placed second and was the lone top-three finisher for the Chieftains in the tournament.
For the Bobcats, it was all about the numbers. Bloomfield took its entire roster to state and put 12 of those wrestlers in a position to place in the top three on Saturday.
Eight Bloomfield grapplers accomplished that goal. Christian Robison (113), Diego O'Neill (138) and David DeHerrera (220) won third-place matches, while Levi Whitley (126), Corbin Nelson (132) and Michael DeHerrera (285) came up short in the finals but earned second.
Robinson, who was upset by a lower-seeded wrestler in the state finals last year, fell behind 2-1 in the first period against Silver's Paul Montoya before taking him down and pinning him 1:41 into the match.
The senior state champ said he didn't panic when he fell behind.
"I just told myself to stay calm and feel through the situations," he said. "I'm just so thankful for everything right now — friends, family, coaches. I'm glad I finally got my title."
Like Robinson, Scott won each of his three matches over the weekend by a fall. Shoemaker said the junior was supremely confident all season.
"He just always believes in himself," Shoemaker said of Scott. "He plugs away, doesn't get fazed too much and gets things done."
KC's Keishaun Aspaas (145) and Luke West (106) won third place. Aspaas, a senior, went out in his last match by pinning Silver's Jayden Wietholder with only three seconds left in the bout.
Cockrell was the only Bronco to earn a title in the final round. Cody Manuelito (170) and Berry Tom (220) made it there, but lost hard-fought matches, both by decision.
Still, Broncos coach JJ Sandoval said he was overjoyed with his wrestlers' effort in Rio Rancho.
"Five out of the seven guys in the top five for us were seniors," he said. "I'm excited and proud for those kids, because it's their last tournament, and they're able to take some hardware home."
Cockrell, who wrestles at 138, made an amazing comeback in capturing another state title, doing so just 22 days after appendectomy surgery.
"I'm speechless," Sandoval said of Cockrell. "No. 1, he's a great kid and has a great work ethic. The things he's had to overcome the last two years and to cap them both with state titles ... what can you say? He really deserves it."
Shiprock's Zander Dale (170), Latrell Ben (145) and Verl Barney (285) were each defeated in their respective third-place matches. Dale and Barney got all the way to the semifinals before losing and heading over to the consolation bracket.
Shiprock assistant coach Sean Hayes couldn't say enough about his athletes who wrestled on Saturday, especially Barney, who had never wrestled an official match prior to this season.
"At the beginning of the season, he didn't know what a simple half (nelson) was, or how to sprawl," Hayes said of Barney. "By the end of the year he was wrestling in the semis. I think to come that far, it's a credit to what he can do when he sets his mind to something."
Charley was pinned in the finals by Xavier Vigil of St. Michael's. Hayes said Charley, a junior, and Vigil exchanged friendly words after, and believes it won't be Charley's last run at state.
"Logan told (Vigil) he's looking forward to next year," Hayes said. "I believe he gave himself a mark or a bar; something to chase after now."
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.