Much like its 2017 Joe Vivian Classic team title, Volcano Vista’s wrestling team received some late-meet help.
With Los Lunas needing a win to wrest the team title from the Hawks, Atrisco Heritage Academy’s Ernest Martinez quashed any comeback hopes for the Tigers.
Martinez (25-1) secured a pin over Los Lunas’ Walter Baca at 5 minutes, 47 seconds of the third round in the heavyweight final for his team’s lone individual title. That victory also wrapped up the Hawks’ second championship in four years at Manzano High School on Saturday.
“Oh yeah?” Martinez said when told he was a popular guy on the Volcano Vista sidelines.
Martinez was a surprising No. 2 seed despite his gaudy record. After two scoreless periods, Martinez scored a reversal from the bottom position, and padded his lead before the meet-ending pin.
“It’s not his fault he was the No. 1 seed,” Martinez said. “He hasn’t faced the same competition that I have (this season).”
Diego Pavia was one of three Volcano Vista finalists, and the only one to come away with a championship.
Pavia, a state runner-up at 138 pounds as a sophomore for St. Pius two years ago, missed all of last season due to New Mexico transfer rules.
Now wrestling at 195 pounds – a whopping 57 pounds more than his previous weight – Pavia hasn’t missed a beat.
Facing top-seeded Santiago Salas of Los Lunas, Pavia put on a clinic recording a dozen, 2-point takedowns. He finished off Salas by technical fall 35 seconds into the third period, winning 26-11.
“They’re (my opponents) just looking to not get pinned,” Pavia said after his match, also saying he lamented his missed junior year. “It’s heartbreaking holding me out a year. I think they need to change that (transfer) rule.”
Pavia’s victory came with the 1½-point bonus to unlock a 187-187 team score tie with Los Lunas and win the meet 192½-187. Yet, Volcano Vista coach Ahren Griego pointed to the overall team depth and the performances of his non-finalists as keys to the victory.
“The Joe Vivian is still the toughest regular-season tournament in the state, to be here and be competitive, that says a lot about the kids,” Griego said. “I have great leadership, and had three kids come through the back side (of their brackets) to finish third or fourth, and another kid took fifth. So, three in the finals and seven kids place, that’s a total team effort.”
Abran Lujan of Valley, Justin Wood of Carlsbad and Cirrail Allison of Farmington were named the most outstanding wrestlers in the lightweight, middleweight and upperweight classifications, respectively.
Other than a close decision in the quarterfinals, Lujan cruised through the 126-pound bracket. There, he faced Cibola’s Hawke Pacheco in a rematch from earlier this month.
The undefeated Lujan fell behind Pacheco 2-0 in the opening period, but like the previous encounter, turned up the pace en route to a pin in 3:36.
“It was pretty much like the first match,” Lujan said. “It’s never the plan to fall behind, but that’s the (wrestling) game.”
Wood completed a perfect career at the Joe Vivian.
A two-time defending state champion, Wood won his fifth straight tournament title taking the 160-pound final by 10-0 decision over Sandia’s Jayden Brown.
“I’ve been out there grinding (in practice),” Wood said. “I got the fifth one of this, and now I want to get a third state championship.”
In a featured 152-pound final that pitted returning state champions, Carlsbad’s Mason Box, a 145-pound state titlist, rolled to an 8-2 decision over Manuel Robles of Volcano Vista.
Box used a three-point near fall midway through the third period to open a commanding lead over Robles.