Prep wrestling: Johnson now can shoulder the load for Volcano Vista - Albuquerque Journal

Prep wrestling: Johnson now can shoulder the load for Volcano Vista

Volcano Vista’s Dezi Johnson (back) takes down Farmington’s Victor Borunda during the 220-pound final at the Joe Vivian Classic at Albuquerque High. (Mike Sandoval/For the Journal)

California transplant Dezi Johnson of Volcano Vista thought his wrestling career was over in the spring when he couldn’t get his right shoulder to stay in its socket.

It didn’t appear as if his shoulder bothered the senior as he swept through the Joe Vivian Classic’s 220-pound bracket, finishing off Farmington’s Victor Borunda on Saturday with a fall at the 3:45 mark.

Johnson was one of four Hawks to win Vivian titles, helping the team to a second-place finish with 185 points behind winner Los Lunas, which finished with 230.5 on Saturday at Albuquerque High.

“I had a shoulder injury and I had to get surgery,” he said. “It kept popping out. It popped out like eight times. I never thought I was going to wrestle again but I thank God I’m back here wrestling.”

After taking a break from the sport, he returned this winter better than ever.

“I took six months off. It went by like this,” he said, snapping his fingers. “It went real quick. It feels great. No problems. I rehab it three times a week to make sure it stays in place.”

Johnson, who moved here prior to his junior year, said he lives to wrestle.

“The old saying, hard work pays off. That’s why your why has be greater than that take down, has to be be greater than that knockdown. When you get taken down, why get up? Why keep going? Don’t give up,” he said. “Like my homey (the Hawks’ Johnny Garcia, who won at 113), why not get keep going? ‘You’ve got nothing to lose.’ This is a warrior sport. It’s a sparring sport. Not everybody can do this. I just try to keep winning on and off the mat.”

Bringing home four individual champions in addition to a runner-up team trophy was a nice achievement, Volcano coach Ahren Griego said, especially after the Vivian was not scheduled a year ago.

“I think taking second is acceptable granted the COVID circumstances,” he said. “It was very difficult to be able to bring a full team here, health-wise with some injuries and some illnesses. So I think second is a good spot to be in this time of year. This is a huge motivational factor for us to continue to grow. And I think it gives us a realistic aspect of where we are at and where we can be. It’s a steppingstone.”

The Tigers claimed just one individual champion – Miguel Andrade at 170 – but used a strong team philosophy to outpoint the other 22 teams competing as every wrestler contributed points.

“This tournament is amazing,” Los Lunas coach Steve Chavez. “It’s been around for so many years. Everybody looks forward to the Joe Vivian. Such great teams from APS and around the state; Cruces, Carlsbad. It’s kind of like a state tournament, basically. It’s important for the kids to do well at this tournament so they have something to look forward to for district.”

La Cueva finished third with 164.5 points, helped by a championship from Jayden Luttrell at 152, although he ripped down his wrestling top and quickly left the gym floor, going down an empty hallway following his victory over Joel Villela of Albuquerque High.

“It’s the first time I’ve gotten taken down in 2½ years,” he said after the 10-2 win. “That’s why I’m upset. I think I could have done better.”

After calming down, Luttrell, a defending state champion, acknowledged that he performed better than the last time he faced Villela last month, winning 2-0.

“I just felt like I didn’t push myself enough there,” he said. “I had a better match this time.”

Fellow defending state champion Joshua Robinson of Sandia earned a tough 1-0 victory, getting his sole point in the final 90 seconds with a sit-out escape against Kael Lucero of Cibola.

“I’m always confident but I’ve never wrestled him and it was really just a mind game,” Robinson said. “I knew I could beat him. I really just didn’t take enough chances. It’s hard to get attacks in when somebody is on their knees. I really didn’t wrestle my match, I wrestled his.”

He had to survive a late push from Lucero.

“Scramble, scramble, scramble,” he said of his tactics in the closing moments. “That’s what I was trying to do. I knew that I wasn’t going to get taken down in the last period but I had to dig deep.”

Sandia’s Joshua Robinson (above) battles Cibola’s Kael Lucero during the final 132-pound match at the Joe Vivian Classic Albuquerque High gym. (Mike Sandoval/For the Journal)


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