ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Rio Rancho and Cleveland wrestlers are close geographically, close competitively and yet went a long way last weekend to get that reminder.
The Rams took seventh place and the Storm eighth at the Old Chicago NCCT in Loveland, Colo., where some 67 teams from four states had sent wrestlers.
Cherry Creek, from the Denver area, won the tournament with 202 points; Rio Rancho, originally slated to compete in the Reno Tournament of Champions, scored 157.5 and finished one slot ahead of the eighth-place Storm (153).
Rio Rancho’s Gabriel Gray, second at 106 pounds, was the top finisher of any local wrestler. Cleveland’s Jesse Nieto was the top seed at 145 pounds, yet was upset in his first match and had to wrestle back for seven wins. He eventually finished fourth.
“The event was the stiffest competition we have seen this year thus far,” said Cleveland coach Corey Anderson, who was disappointed that three of his wrestlers seeded in the top 10 lost their first matches.
“We liked the fact that we saw some adversity and responded to it well as opposed to … putting our tail between our legs,” he added.
Cleveland heads to Silver City on Jan. 3-4, where Storm squad gets 10 duals in two days – “a lot of looks at our kids,” said Anderson. Rio Rancho goes to Geary, Okla., on Jan. 10.