ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Mike Budick of Volcano Vista loomed so large and was so voracious inside the circle for the Hawks wrestling team during the 2013-14 season, it might have been more entertaining for him to wrestle two guys at once.
One-on-one just didn’t seem to be a fair fight.
The imposing senior closed his career in grand style, with a pin in the championship match of the Class 5A state tournament. The 220-pound division was Budick’s ruling class from start to finish, evidence his 43 pins in 43 matches.
“Fourteen years in this sport,” Budick said, “and it’s finally paid off.”
That it took him a staggering 3 minutes, 14 seconds to pin Valley’s Seth Mello in the state final was probably the biggest surprise on the season’s final night.
Budick figuratively and literally pushed opponents around for three months.
Not one person until Mello had forced him to wrestle beyond the first period, so dominant was Budick.
“I really wasn’t worrying about keeping that stat going,” said Budick. “I just really wanted to get a win.”
- It was a typically big night for Rio West area programs.
Rio Rancho claimed the 5A state title, eight points ahead of Rio Grande, with Volcano Vista and Cleveland placing third and fourth, respectively, and Valley a strong seventh.
Eight of the 14 weight divisions belonged to wrestlers from Cleveland, Rio Rancho, Volcano Vista and Valley.
The Rams produced a pair of champions, with Orlando Gutierrez at 138 and Miguel Barreras at 160. Gutierrez was nearly waylaid by a relentlessly bloody nose and half a dozen blood stoppages. Finally, rings of tape were wrapped around his head to stem the bleeding, before he finally prevailed 2-1 in four overtimes against Las Cruces’ Isaiah Sedillos.
“This is what we train for all year,” Gutierrez said after his second individual title.
Barreras also earned his second title, which had to be extremely satisfying since he missed more than half the season with an injury.
Barreras pinned Atrisco Heritage’s Nathan Corrigan in 2:36 at 160 pounds.
“I just wanted to get it for my team. The team is the big thing. We want to be top dogs in the state,” Barreras said.
That moniker was clinched in the 170-pound final, which Rio Rancho’s Jordan Lara lost 5-4 to Rio Grande’s undefeated Logan Wolfel. Wolfel had to pin Lara for the Ravens to have any chance at catching the Rams.
- Although two-time defending champion Cleveland finished fourth, the Storm had more individual winners (three) than any 5A school.
Freshman Noah Mirabal decisioned Rio Rancho’s Orion Gutierrez, an eighth-grader, 4-2 in the first final at 106 pounds.
“This is the first step in my main goal, which is to be the best there is,” Mirabal said.
He was followed by Trey Nicoley, who captured the 113-pound division with a 3-1 decision over Anthony Trujillo of Las Cruces.
Later, Jesse Nieto became the 145-pound champion, decisioning Mario Pacheco Jr., of Oñate, 9-3. Nieto said Cleveland’s travels during the season gave Nieto the exposure he needed to win a state title.
“It’s a definite advantage,” he said. “Because you see so much more competition.”
- Volcano Vista’s other champion was Nate Sierra at 182 pounds, who impressed in a 6-0 decision over No. 1 seed Leo Maestas of Rio Grande.
- There weren’t too many guys more elated to win a state title than Valley’s Gabe Lucero, the 132-pound winner. He decisioned his cousin, Manzano’s Carlos Sandoval, 7-4 in the final. It was the first time they had met since the eighth grade.
“I’ve never felt this good about wrestling,” Lucero said. “I’ve been working for this for my whole wrestling career, since I was in the third grade.”
CLASS 4A: St. Pius freshman Gavino Hernandez was the ninth state champ from the Rio West area. He took 4A’s 106-pound bracket as a No. 6 seed, 8-7 over top-seeded Toshio Herrera of Miyamura.
Hernandez took out each of the top three seeds during the state tournament. Familiarity, he said, helped smooth the way.
“I beat most of the people that were seeded above me (in the regular season),” Hernandez said. “It was a really big confidence booster.”
TEAM FINISHES: West Mesa placed 15th and Cibola 17th in the 5A standings.
In 4A, St. Pius finished 15th, Bernalillo 24th.
TOP INDIVIDUALS: Other Rio West-area wrestlers that reached the title match in 5A – but lost there – were Cleveland’s Shawn Nieto at 126 and Valley’s Elijah Schold at 195.