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The Albuquerque Metro Wrestling Championships were nearly decided in the final match of the tournament.
Senior Gabe Garcia of Cleveland, the No. 1 seed at 195 pounds, ensured that it wouldn’t come to that.
Garcia’s pin of Atrisco Heritage’s Octavio Peña locked up the team title for the Storm, which beat the runner-up Jaguars 179½-168 at the 2020 event at La Cueva on Saturday.
“It’s important,” Garcia said, “but it’s not what we’re here for. We’re looking forward to putting on a show at state, and staying humble and hungry until then.”
Cleveland had three individual champions on Saturday. Junior Estevan Encinias got the finals started with a victory at 106 pounds; the No. 2 seed recorded a technical fall over Rio Grande’s Sergio Gutierrez, 15-0.
Tyler Gabaldon (120) was involved in the most exciting match among the 14 finals.
The Storm junior was trailing Cibola’s Layne Kohn with about 20 seconds left in the third period when Kohn locked his hands around Gabaldon. That penalty point to Gabaldon sent the match into overtime.
It wasn’t until the fourth overtime, in an ultimate rideout, that Gabaldon eventually prevailed. Kohn, who scored the first offensive point of the match, had the choice of being up or down. He chose down, but could not escape Gabaldon’s clutches.
“Every day at practice we do ultimate rideout and go as hard as we can,” Gabaldon said. “It’s all about heart.”
At 195, Garcia pinned all four of his opponents this weekend.
The host team had a solid showing, finishing fifth. The Bears also had three champions: top-seeded Zac Dallas at 145 pounds, second-seeded Thomas Fotter at 182 and No. 1 seed Jayden Luttrell at 138.
In a rematch of their Joe Vivian Classic final from two weeks earlier, where Luttrell pinned Manzano’s Isaiah Hernandez with five seconds remaining, Luttrell this time won by pin in 3:47 – but, that was only after he barely escaped being pinned himself in the match’s opening 30 seconds. The dominant Luttrell (30-0) had four pins this weekend.
Dallas (29-1), a senior, pinned Rio Rancho’s Gabriel Keith at 5:49. The match was square 9-all when it happened.
“I just kept keeping the hammer (down),” Dallas said. “I felt like I was bringing the pressure and tiring him out.”
Fotter grinded out an 8-5 decision over Eldorado sophomore Arminio Otero.
Sandia had two champions in 160-pounder Jayden Brown and 113-pounder Joshua Robinson, who moved his season record to 23-0 with a second-round pin of Atrisco Heritage’s Joshua Sadler. He won all three of his matches this weekend by pin.
Brown reached the Vivian finals but fell to Carlsbad juggernaut Justin Wood. Brown in the metro final was efficient throughout as the top seed registered an 8-2 decision over Manzano’s Daniel Montaño.
“I just came out ready to wrestle,” Brown said. “I just had to cut my angles and take him down.”
After Garcia’s title clinching win at 195, Volcano Vista’s Diego Pavia at 220 pounds and Atrisco Heritage heavyweight Ernest Martinez (30-1) followed up their Joe Vivian victories with metro titles on Saturday.
But for Pavia, there was a twist. He captured the 195-pound crown at the Vivian, but moved up to 220 this weekend and beat Sandia’s previously undefeated Jacob Telles – the Vivian champ at 220 – with a 7-4 decision. Telles was seeded first at metros, Pavia second.
Pavia said later he wasn’t sure which weight he will enter for the state tournament, which is Feb. 21-22 at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.
At 126 pounds, Rio Rancho’s Tim Lopez won by injury default when the No. 1, undefeated seed, Abran Lujan from Valley, suffered a knee injury in the third period. Lopez’s teammate, Alex Emmer, captured the 132-pound bracket, as the No. 2 seed upset top-seeded Santiago Lopez of Atrisco Heritage with a 4-0 decision.
But Atrisco Heritage did have a second champion in sophomore Jake Vialpando at 152, who beat Rio Rancho’s Christopher Montoya. Cibola’s No. 1-seeded Klayton Whitezell of Cibola was the 170-pound champion, pinning Nathan Sanchez from Volcano Vista in 5:41. The match was tied 5-5 at the time of the pin.
Volcano Vista (138 points), Rio Rancho (137) and La Cueva (132) rounded out the top five in the team standings.
Albuquerque Metro Championships
Saturday — La Cueva HS
TEAM: Cleveland 179.5, Atrisco Heritage 168, Volcano Vista 138, Rio Rancho 137, La Cueva 132, Manzano 107, Cibola 90.5, Sandia 88, Eldorado 68, Rio Grande 55.5, Valley 51, Del Norte 35, West Mesa 30, Albuquerque High 27, St. Pius 24, Highland 6.
INDIVIDUAL: 106—Estevan Encinias, Cleveland, tech. fall Sergio Gutierrez, Rio Grande, 15-0. 113—Joshua Robinson, Sandia, p. Joshua Sadler, Atrisco Heritage, 2:35. 120—Tyler Gabaldon, Cleveland, dec. Layne Kohn, Cibola, 3-2 (four OTs, ultimate rideout). 126—Tim Lopez, Rio Rancho, won by injury default over Abran Lujan, Valley, 4:18. 132—Alex Emmer, Rio Rancho, dec. Santiago Lopez, Atrisco Heritage, 4-0. 138—Jayden Luttrell, La Cueva, p. Isaiah Hernandez, Manzano, 3:47. 145—Zac Dallas, La Cueva, p. Gabriel Keith, Rio Rancho, 5:49. 152—Jake Vialpando, Atrisco Heritage, dec. Christopher Montoya, Rio Rancho, 9-4. 160—Jayden Brown, Sandia, dec. Daniel Montaño, Manzano, 8-2. 170—Klayton Whitezell, Cibola, p. Nathan Sanchez, Volcano Vista, 5:41. 182—Thomas Fotter, La Cueva, dec. Arminio Otero, Eldorado, 8-5. 195—Gabe Garcia, Cleveland, p. Octavio Peña, Atrisco Heritage, 2:49. 220—Diego Pavia, Volcano Vista, dec. Jacob Telles, Sandia, 7-4. HVWT—Ernest Martinez, Atrisco Heritage, dec. Coleton Radford, Del Norte, 5-0.