Panthers get top-seven finishes from all of their wrestlers; Aztec edges Bayfield, Colo., for second at Butch Melton Invitational

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FARMINGTON — Coach Michael Bejar of the Piedra Vista wrestling team said he thought his Panthers underachieved on the second day of the Robertson Cardinal Classic, but an enormous first day gave his team all the cushion it needed.

PV took a 100.5-point lead over its closest competitor after Friday, and placed every one of its wrestlers in the top seven of their weight class today in winning the Las Vegas, N.M., 27-school tournament.

The Panthers accumulated 555.5 points, more than 103 more than second-place Capital.

Farmington bounced back from its lackluster performance in Aztec last week by snagging eighth place, while Bloomfield took 12th, and Kirtland Central earned 16th.

Bejar said PV didn't finish the way he had hoped, despite increasing its margin today.

"We've just got to work harder and get better," Bejar said. "Bottom line."

Hosman Caraveo was PV's lone first-place winner at 160 pounds.

"Hosman had a great, great tournament," Bejar said. "He really worked hard and wrestled hard. He did all the small things to put himself in that position."

Farmington coach Jose Mendoza said he set a goal for his team before the meet, and that was to finish in the top 10. His team met that goal, thanks in large part to Dante Norberto (285), who finished third.

"I tell you what, Dante keeps performing every single week for us," Mendoza said. "That boy wrestled, I believe, nine times this weekend, and he only lost once, and that was to Estevan Chavez, the state champ from Belen."

Scorpions freshman Cirrail Allison (132) stood out with a fourth-place finish, as did eighth-graders Zach Small (126) and Taeoma Frank (106), who contributed 38 points to Farmington's team score between them.

Bloomfield got a lift from Levi Whitley (132) who went 7-2 today and took second place. Avery Scott (160) helped the cause as well with a third-place finish, and Michael DeHerrera (220) was fourth for the Bobcats, who are trending in the right direction ahead of next weekend's District 1-5A duals, according to coach Greg Shoemaker.

"I was pleased. We're starting to get close," Shoemaker said. "I think we're going to end up peaking at the right time. It's looking good."

KC had to leave some wrestlers in Kirtland due to nagging injuries, and the Broncos' team score suffered as a result.

"We brought some JV kids to wrestle, and some of them did a good job, man," KC coach JJ Sandoval said. "They got after it, they wrestled hard regardless of who they had to wrestle. So we didn't have our full squad, and this is a tough tournament."

Cody Manuelito (182) earned third as KC's top finisher of the weekend.

Aztec places second at Butch Melton

The Aztec wrestling team had a strong outing in its last tournament before district.

The Tigers saw 10 wrestlers finish fifth or better to push Aztec to a second-place finish at the Butch Melton Invitational today in Ignacio, Colo.

"I believe everyone had some success," Aztec coach Monte Maxwell said. "We did a lot of growing and a lot of maturing. And we got to see some different wrestlers, so that’s always good."

The Tigers finished with 131 points, narrowly edging Bayfield, Colo., which finished third with 129 points.

Cedaredge, Colo., won the tournament with 164.5 points.

Josiah Griego (113), Cody Candelaria (126) and Austin Littlefield (152) won their weight classes to lead the Tigers.

Candelaria was named outstanding wrestler for the lower weight classes.

But Maxwell said the maybe the best of the day belonged to Jared O’Toole (220), who finished fifth.

"Jared O’Toole came in big at the end, winning his last match to help us hold on to second," Maxwell said.

Shiprock placed 14th at the tournament with 11.5 points.

Zephaniah Hadley (170) finished fifth, and Tyler Litzin (285) placed sixth to lead the Chieftains.

Shiprock will be at the District 1-4A duals, hosted by Wingate, on Saturday.

Aztec will wrestle at the District 1-5A duals in Kirtland on Saturday.

"I believe it’s been 15 years since we’ve had a district championship," Maxwell said. "We’ve been runner-up the last eight or nine years. Hopefully, the kids can put it together and are mentally and physically ready. We’ve put them through everything we could to prepare them. Now it’s time to finish."

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

Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577. 

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