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RIO RANCHO – You have go to back 23 years, to another millennium, to find the last school from outside the metro area that claimed a big-school state team wrestling championship.
The Piedra Vista Panthers ended that drought on Saturday night at the Santa Ana Star Center.
Piedra Vista, which owns a slew of state titles in New Mexico’s second-largest classification, on Saturday won the Class 5A crown, the school’s first among the largest of the state’s programs.
“It’s so much more rewarding,” Piedra Vista coach Greg Ruybalid said, “beating the best.”
The Panthers only had one individual champion, seventh-seeded senior Ezekiel Bejar at 132 pounds (who upset the top two seeds in his bracket), but their depth and point production from every one of their 14 state qualifiers, made the difference.
“It was a complete team effort,” Ruybalid said. “It truly took every single one of us to get it done.”
Piedra Vista scored 183 points, with Carlsbad (170½) and defending champ Rio Rancho (163½) second and third, respectively. Carlsbad, in 1997, was the last large school from outside the metro to win a blue trophy.
Volcano Vista would have finished third, but a Hawks wrestler was given a flagrant misconduct in his third-place match earlier in the day, and his tournament disqualification cost the team 17 points, his coaches said. Volcano Vista (147½) finished 16 points back of the Rams.
Individually, there were an abundance of compelling finals.
Cleveland won the first two, including senior Tristan Mascareñas at 113 pounds. It was his third, and the 10th in his family following brothers Paul and Mikey.
“It makes me feel like you can accomplish anything you want to,” Mascareñas said. “And I’m always excited to do what I love.”
Three of the 14 champions completed undefeated seasons.
Those included Farmington senior Cirrail Allison, who toughed out a 4-2 decision over second-seeded Xavier Salazar of Rio Rancho at 170 pounds. Allison went 44-0 this season.
In the match just before that one, Deming senior Daniel Perez closed out a 40-0 campaign with his victory at 160 over two-time defending state champion Justin Wood of Carlsbad.
“I’m happy because I actually won, and he’s a two-time state champion, and sad because it’s my last year,” said Perez.
The match was delayed a couple of times because Wood was dealing with a severe right knee injury. His family said he first injured it wrestling against Perez at a tournament at Cleveland earlier this season.
Wood was game as he could be given the obvious extreme pain he was in, and lost a 16-8 major decision.
“I could hear the groans and moans,” Perez said. “But I just kept the pressure and kept my positioning and took it to him.”
Aside from Mascareñas, the metro area had a few other state champions, and the night closed with a metro-flavored flurry.
Atrisco Heritage heavyweight Ernest Martinez (38-1), the top seed, took down Eldorado’s No. 2-seeded Nathan Ellis 15 seconds into overtime for a 3-1 decision. At 220 pounds, Sandia’s Jacob Telles (26-1) had a 5-0 decision over Atrisco’s Eduardo Enriquez.
“You know,” Telles said, “it’s surreal. Ever since freshman year, that’s all I’ve dreamed about.”
At 195 pounds, Volcano Vista’s Diego Pavia (28-1) – who handed Telles his only loss, in the metro final at 220 – downed Cleveland’s Gabe Garcia.
Tim Lopez of Rio Rancho, the top seed at 126, was first place at his weight, as was Cleveland junior Estevan Encinias at 106. Junior Zackary Small of Farmington went 50-0 this season; he was the 182-pound champ.
CLASS 4A: Aztec beat Los Lunas, 246½-215, to earn first place. Aztec finished with six individual champions, including undefeated eighth-grader Bryson Valdez at 106 pounds. Jonathan Gurule (113) and Santiago Salas (195) were state champs from Los Lunas.
Bernalillo senior Luis Teran completed a perfect 35-0 season with his triumph at 170 pounds.
“The moment is not explainable,” Teran said. “It’s just a feeling when you put the hard work in. Now I’m finished. I’m done. Now it’s time to live life.”
Other metro champions in 4A were Del Norte heavyweight Coleton Radford, Belen’s Dylan Gonzales at 132, and St. Pius’ Matthew Sanchez at 120.
CLASS 3A: Cobre won its second straight championship, as the Indians scored 215 points and had more individual state champions than any school in the building Saturday, with seven.
Robertson (176½) was runner-up. But Cardinals senior Andrew Trujillo (36-3) won his fourth individual title, taking down the 145-pound bracket.
“I set a goal to be undefeated, and I didn’t reach that goal, so I just kept working harder and harder,” Trujillo said.
(Click here for links to the team scores and brackets in all divisions.)