RIO RANCHO — One wrestler from Santa Fe tried to use the courts to get into the state wrestling tournament, and was denied.
But the opening day of the 2019 event was not without a legal maneuver that got an athlete an emergency reprieve.
Los Lunas High School sophomore Matthew Gurule on Friday morning was granted entry into the Class 4A tournament after a judge in Valencia County signed a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the New Mexico Activities Association that allowed Gurule to compete.
By the time this information became known to the organizers of the tournament, Gurule’s 145-pound bracket had already begun at the Santa Ana Star Center.
Not only that, but Los Alamos’ Teke Nieto had been declared a forfeit winner of his first-round match against Gurule.
But after Valencia County District Court Judge Pedro Rael signed the TRO, the NMAA was forced to get Gurule weighed in, and Nieto, who thought he already was into the quarterfinals, was forced to wrestle him.
“It’s unfortunate,” Los Alamos athletic director Ann Stewart said. “The kid thinks he’s won his first-round match, and then has the rug pulled out from under him.”
Gurule decisioned Nieto, 7-0, and later advanced to the semifinals with a second victory on Friday.
Los Lunas coach Steve Chavez declined to comment when approached by a Journal reporter, deferring to district athletic director Wilson Holland, who did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Los Alamos coach James Hatt also said he didn’t want to comment.
Gurule’s case, sources told the Journal, revolved around conflicting diagnoses as to whether or not he had been officially concussed during last weekend’s district tournament.
He was injured in the district final, when his opponent threw him down onto the mat and forfeited the match to Gurule. So, as a district champion, Gurule was an automatic qualifier into the state tournament.
But the NMAA decided it would not allow Gurule to wrestle, believing he had suffered a concussion based on its own reports from a trainer on site at the district tournament.
Rael, in his ruling, said he conducted a review of the medical records and determined that Gurule could wrestle, but it was not known what records he examined to make his decision.
Nearly all of the No. 1 seeds made it through Friday’s opening rounds. Nearly. Of the 42 such wrestlers, only one — Pecos’ Derik Ortiz, the top seed in Class 3A at 182 pounds — was beaten on Friday.
The semifinals are 9 a.m. today in all classes, with the finals scheduled at 4:30 p.m.
Cobre (3A), Aztec (4A) and Rio Rancho (5A) lead the team standings.
The Rams scored 92 points on Friday, 11 in front of Carlsbad and 17 ahead of third-place Cleveland. In 4A, Aztec (108.5) leads Silver (95) and Los Lunas (89). Cobre’s 35.5 points were leading Robertson and Socorro (both with 28) in 3A.