RIO RANCHO — The road to a state wrestling title now goes straight through the Four Corners area of New Mexico.
After two grueling days of competition, the Aztec Tigers won their third consecutive New Mexico state wresting title tonight, while the Piedra Vista Panthers captured their first state title since 2015.
Aztec ran away with the 4A title, scoring 246.5 points making the Tigers the top point scorers in the entire tournament regardless of classification. PV claimed the 5A crown, finishing with 183 points, ahead of Carlsbad's second-place finish at 170.5.
Aztec went a perfect 6-for-6 in the boys championship matches. Mia Aguirre, Makayla Munoz and Princess Altisi all won individual titles in the girls tournament.
"Our kids came and wrestled today," Aztec coach Monte Maxwell said. "They came and got after it. I'm very proud of them and the coaching staff for the work they put in with them. It's amazing. We've had some ups and downs with kids injured and out of the lineups. So we've really only had a full team for two weeks. We lost one of our guys who qualified and had to get surgery after the district tournament so we were a man short today."
While Ezekiel Bejar won the Panthers' only individual championship, the team was able to wrestle in all 14 boys weight divisions and had the title won when the 160-pound wrestlers were still on the mat, about halfway through the championship round.
"We had a great season. We didn't wrestle in New Mexico at all. We go out of state pretty much all year young. When you're up in the Four Corners it's easy to go to Colorado and Arizona. We went to California this year which helped us see a lot of different wrestling styles," PV coach Greg Ruybalid said. "This is our first championship at 5A. This is special being at the top division, it means a lot more."
Ruybalid said he was especially proud that all 14 of his wrestlers were able to contribute to the point total, as each wrestler winning at least one match.
Aztec’s Bryson Valdez defeats Espanola Valley’s Devin Atencio for 4A’s 106-pound championship Saturday at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho. Farmington Daily Times
Aztec individual champions
Bryson Valdez, 106 pounds
Mia Aguirre, 120 pounds (girls)
Makayla Munoz, 126 pounds (girls)
Garrett Birzer, 138 pounds
Bode Wooley, 145 pounds
Zane Chapman, 152 pounds
Malcolm Altisi, 160 pounds
Princess Altisi, 160 pounds (girls)
Caleb Varzeas, 220 pounds
Piedra Vista individual champions
Ezekiel Bejar, 132 pounds
Matthew Asher can be reached at 575-628-5524, firstname.lastname@example.org or @Caveman_Masher on Twitter.