RIO RANCHO — The Piedra Vista wrestling team is in the midst of a battle at the 6A state championships at the Santa Ana Star Center.
While Cleveland began to separate from the competition, compiling 108 points today, just 13 points separate the second- through sixth-place teams, and the Panthers sit in third with 83 points.
"We knew it was going to be a dog fight coming in. We're scratching and clawing," PV coach Michael Bejar said. "I think the kids responded pretty well, but we still have a lot of wrestling to do. There are some big matchups coming up."
Rio Rancho holds the second spot with 87 points, followed by PV. Carlsbad is fourth with 82.5 points, then come Volcano Vista with 77 points and Manzano with 74.
PV had nine wrestlers advance to Saturday's rounds and will send six — Diego Sanchez-Moralez (106), Wes Rayburn (138), Nick Rino (145), Hosman Caraveo (160), Sergio Quintana (170) and Adrian Tarwater (220) — into the semifinals.
After dropping their opening match of the day, PV's Ethan Salazar (126) and Jared Terry (285) picked up wins on the back side to stay alive in the consolation bracket and advance to Saturday. Justin Delgado (113) is the third and final Panther in the consolation bracket.
"Our first goal is to make the second day, and our second goal is to win your last match," Bejar said.
Chieftains fifth after first day
In 4A, Shiprock sits in fifth place after the first day of action at the A/4A state wrestling tournament at the Santa Ana Star Center.
The Chieftains picked up 34 points and will send seven wrestlers back to the mats Saturday.
"They handled the pressure pretty well. Even a lot better than we expected, but we're still reminding them that it was just day one. We still have a lot to do and a lot of wrestling left," Shiprock coach Ben Frazier said. "We want to keep them focused on their next match. Nothing further than that."
Cobre and Silver separated themselves from the rest of the field, scoring 71 and 67 points, respectively.
Of the seven Shiprock wrestlers still in action, four – Cauy Ute (120), Zelldan Clark (160), Zephaniah Hadley (170) and Logan Charley — are in the semifinals.
Chelsea Wheeler (106), Kevin Lee (113) and Tyler Litzin (285) are in the consolation bracket for Shiprock.
Frazier said Ute's wrestling stood out on the day. After not being seeded as high as he hoped to be, Ute used the seeding as motivation and tore through his two matches, winning a 15-4 major decision and a second-period fall to move into the semis.
"Cauy stood out. He had a tough draw. He didn't get the seeded we wanted, but he stepped up to the challenge and went beyond our expectations," Frazier said.
Wrestling resumes at 9 a.m. Saturday.
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.