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KIRTLAND — When the Aztec wrestling team needed a win against Kirtland Central, Dominic Dufur stepped up to the challenge.

With the Tigers leading the Broncos 37-33 heading into the 145-pound match, the last of the dual, Dufur dominated his opponent, KC junior Brandon Silago, for a technical fall victory in the second period to push the Tigers to a 42-33 victory today at Bronco Arena.

“He went out and did was he normally does,” Aztec coach Monte Maxwell said of Dufur. “He wrestles tough and is constantly working. He’s always looking for some advantage. And I don’t know that he feels pressure. Dominic is a unique individual. He just goes out and does what he does.”

After Aztec won the opening two matches of the day at 152 and 160 pounds, the Broncos ran off five straight victories, four coming via fall, to take control of the dual 27-11.

“That’s definitely our strength,” KC coach JJ Sandoval said of the upper weight classes. “Don’t get me wrong, our lower weights are solid. We still need to work on our lower weights and develop some things, but our upper weights are where our strength is.”

But with the swing from the upper weight classes back to the lighter weights, where Aztec is at its strongest, the Tigers retook control. Aztec won the next five matches, three via fall and two by major decision, to take a 37-27 lead with two matches remaining.

Needing at least a major decision to keep the Broncos’ hopes for a team victory alive, KC’s 138-pounder Isaiah Jones did even better, scoring a third-period fall over Aztec’s Logan Klepac to bring the team score to 37-33.

“His match specifically was what we’ve been talking about all year," Sandoval said. "He was down early, I think it was 6-0, but he kept trying and kept trying, and he ended up catching his guy in the third period. And it’s because he kept trying. It made the dual a lot closer than what it maybe should have been. That’s what I want to see out of everyone. That’s the effort I want to see.”

Both the Tigers and Broncos will be back on the mat Saturday for the Four Corners Orthodontics Tiger Duals at Lillywhite Gym in Aztec.

“We need a little more energy and a little more focus,” Maxwell said. “You always hope you wrestle tougher at home, so we’ll see.”

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.

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