A junior wrestler at Santa Fe High School has been suspended for the season for a violent altercation that rendered an Albuquerque Academy athlete unconscious during the recent Joe Vivian Classic.
Isaac Beltran is seen on two videos obtained by the Journal striking Academy senior Jackson Taylor three times in the area of the head at the end of the first period of their 132-pound quarterfinal match at the Vivian on Jan. 18 at Albuquerque High.
The Journal was told by two sources that Taylor lost consciousness as a result of the blows.
One of the two videos reveals clearly that the punches came immediately after Taylor — who is lying face down on the mat — threw his right elbow back into Beltran’s head. That is when Beltran began punching Taylor.
The Journal has learned there is a police report of the incident and requested a copy that APS has not yet provided. It was not immediately known if Beltran, state runner-up in Class 6A at 120 pounds last season, might face a criminal charge.
The New Mexico Activities Association has suspended Beltran for the remainder of the season, including next month’s state tournament. NMAA executive director Sally Marquez said she could not comment on the specifics of Beltran’s case.
“The NMAA is always seeking to improve the level of sportsmanship and fair play in education-based athletics and activities,” Marquez said. “When those principles are not adhered to, the NMAA does take action, which can lead to suspension from future events.”
Santa Fe Public Schools district athletic director Larry Chavez Jr. said the district has accepted the punishment and is not going to appeal.
“No matter if something was going on in the match that wasn’t observed, the action of our wrestler was inappropriate and shouldn’t have taken place,” Chavez said.
Santa Fe coach Mark Hussey said his wrestler “absolutely” felt provoked — and by more than just the thrown elbow, without elaborating. But he did not condone Beltran’s retaliation.
“It’s not something taught in our room,” Hussey said. “I’m disappointed it happened.”
It is not yet known if Beltran or his family will appeal directly to the NMAA. But Hussey, who did not see the match — two of assistants were assigned to that mat — watched it later on video, and felt Taylor should be held responsible as well.
“I think both kids should be serving the same punishment,” Hussey said, though the NMAA said Taylor is not facing discipline.
Beltran was leading comfortably against Taylor when the incident escalated.
Academy coach Troy Rodgers is observed on one of the videos tackling Beltran after the punches began but before the referee steps in. Rodgers declined to comment on the specifics of what transpired, but did say, “Our ultimate goal is the safety of the kids. If we see a kid getting hurt or something happening, as a coach, it’s my obligation to intervene.”
Taylor missed practice last week, Rodgers said, and is easing back into workouts this week. Taylor is expected to return to the mat next week.