Bella Wells, Austin Littlefield win outstanding wrestler awards
BLOOMFIELD — Wrestling twice in less than 24 hours didn't phase Aztec today, which won the Bloomfield Invitational at Bobcat Gym by mounting a 4-0 record and cruising past Taos 45-27 in the final.
"We're really proud of how they're wrestling," Aztec coach Monte Maxwell said. "We've had a lot of good off-season work, and they're showing the work they've put in. They've just been busting their butts. But it's still early, and we've got a long way to go."
Aztec toppled Taos 57-20 at home on Thursday night and got a leg up on the second-place Tigers again in Bloomfield. The Tigers also defeated Miyamura, Gallup and Kirtland Central.
Miyamura defeated the Bobcats 63-18 in the third-place match, and in the fifth-place match, KC stampeded past Grants 60-15.
First-place Aztec boasted several undefeated wrestlers, including Josiah Griego, Cody Candaleria, Dominic Dufur and two wrestlers who received outstanding wrestler awards — Bella Wells at lightweight and Austin Littlefield at middleweight.
"They're cousins," Maxwell said of Littlefield and Wells. "I'm just proud of both of them. Bella's our first female wrestler to win a varsity tournament at Aztec. So I'm very proud of them. They earned it."
The Tigers also got a boost from fill-in 138-pounder Logan Klepac, who "battled really tough," according to Maxwell.
Bloomfield beat Grants and the Pagosa Springs, Colo., junior varsity team, while falling to Taos and Miyamura for a 2-2 record — the same mark the Bobcats earned in last Saturday's Gallup Duals.
"They're making improvements all around," Bloomfield coach Greg Shoemaker said. "We allowed ourselves to get turned over a lot easier last year. This year, we're not. Takedowns are still improving, and defensively, we're getting a lot better."
Avery Scott, a defending state champion, and Michael DeHerrera won all of their respective matches today. Both are unbeaten for the young season.
The Broncos lost to Miyamura and Aztec by seven points apiece, and picked up victories over Grants and Gallup.
KC got a lift from Cody Manuelito, Isaac Thomas, Dominique Benally and Cadyn Hartsfield, who all went undefeated. Broncos coach JJ Sandoval said Manuelito is getting better week by week.
"He definitely is going in the right direction," Sandoval said. "He's got a lot to improve on. There's definitely some things that all the kids have to improve on. The thing about Cody is, when it's time to get on the mat and wrestle, he gets things done — he finds a way to win."
Piedra Vista a close second at Las Cruces Invitational
The Panthers put themselves in a position to win the bracketed individual Las Cruces Invitational after today's strong performance.
PV is looking up only at Queen Creek, Ariz., after one day in Las Cruces. The Panthers amassed 124 points, just a half a point behind Queen Creek, and four ahead of Marana Mountain View, Ariz.
Six Panther wrestlers did well enough to crack Saturday's semifinals: 107-pounder Diego Sanchez, Wes Rayburn (138), Nick Rino (145), Hosman Caraveo (160), Sergio Quintana (170) and Adrian Tarwater (220). PV also has four other individuals competing in the consolation bracket on Saturday.
PV coach Michael Bejar said his team hustled its way to bonus points all afternoon.
"We try to preach bonus points, and they went after bonus points like I haven't seen in a long time," Bejar said. "The kids are just going after the goals we're setting, and the first one is make the second day. There's still a lot of wrestling to be done tomorrow."
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.