Panthers finish just outside top 10 in Reno
Rino, Raburn place for PV; Aztec's Bella Wells takes first at Blackwatch Tourney
FARMINGTON — The Piedra Vista wrestling team placed two wrestlers in the top five of their respective weight classes while earning an 11th-place finish as a team in this week's Sierra Nevada Classic in Reno, Nev.
At 145 pounds, Nick Rino got all the way to the championship match todayThursday, where he was pinned two minutes and 53 seconds in by Logan Meek out of Crater High School in Oregon. PV's other top placer was Wes Rayburn, and he took fourth at 138 pounds.
Panthers coach Michael Bejar said neither his team, nor Rino and Rayburn, finished where they set out to land on the podium, but the coach thinks the competition definitely toughened his squad.
"That's one hell of a tournament. I love it," Bejar said. "I love the competition here. We definitely got out of our comfort zone, and that's good for us."
PV ended up with 114.5 points, which was just 2.5 points shy of 10th place.
In the 145-pound final, Rino was wrestling from behind almost as soon as the match got underway.
"Nick went for a throw, and he got caught," Bejar said. "He gave up 5 points right away."
The third-place match Rayburn wrestled in went the opposite way of Rino's bout. Rayburn built a 4-1 lead over Dalton Lakmann of Catalina Foothills High School in Arizona, but wound up losing by decision, 9-7.
Bejar called both wrestlers "warriors" and said the losses should make them tougher going forward.
"I told them, 'I know it's not what you wanted, but you can't be disappointed,'" Bejar said. "You know, this is a tough, tough tournament. Eighty-eight teams. This is the kind of thing that makes you work harder and come back mentally stronger."
After the first day, Diego Morales-Sanchez (106), Hosman Caraveo (160) and Sergio Quintana (170) had a chance to make some noise in the consolation bracket, but all failed to place after losing their opening-round match.
Capping Aztec's run in Upland, Calif., Bella Wells continued her historic season by winning the 106-pound bracket todayon Thursday in the girls portion of the Blackwatch Tournament.
Wells came in with the No. 3 seed in a field of 19 and swept her way through the first three rounds, winning 15-0, 6-0 and 16-0. She then won the final match 10-7 to become the first female wrestler in New Mexico history to win a major tournament, according to coach Monte Maxwell.
"We're pretty proud of her," he said.
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.