Another big tournament, another win for Volcano Vista.
The Hawks, coming off an impressive showing the previous week at the Conflict at Cleveland, polished off a victory Saturday afternoon at the Joe Vivian Classic at Albuquerque High.
Volcano Vista, led by champions Anthony Lopez, Noah Jones and Lorenzo Gallegos, tallied 199 points over the two-day meet. Atrisco Heritage (170.5) was next, then Farmington and La Cueva, which tied for third with 153 points.
Are the Hawks the best team in Class 5A?
“Oooooh,” was Volcano Vista coach Ahren Griego’s response. “I would say by results, that’s a fair statement.”
But, he quickly added, 5A has a handful of strong teams, citing Cleveland, Atrisco Heritage, Farmington and La Cueva as groups that are going to challenge for a blue trophy at next month’s state tournament.
“(We’ve) looked a lot better than (we) have in past years,” said Jones, a senior who won the 127-pound title, in a close tiebreaker with Aaron Zamora of Los Lunas. “We have a lot of talent on this team, and everyone is really determined.”
Lopez took down the 114-pound division, as the junior major-decisioned Marcus Najera of Carlsbad, 9-1. Gallegos, a freshman with a sparkling 30-1 record, posted an 11-4 decision over Moriarty’s Jonathan Valdez at 133 pounds.
“Everyone comes into practice with a positive attitude, everyone gets along well, everyone works hard, and everyone just pushes everyone,” said Lopez, a junior with a 29-1 record. “It just creates a positive environment to learn and grow.”
The Conflict at Cleveland the previous week had an even deeper field than did the Vivian, and the Vivian always attracts an extremely solid group of teams.
“They wrestled great,” Griego said.
Seven Hawks reached the semifinals at the Vivian, and this remains a relatively young roster, with only three seniors, the coach added.
Atrisco Heritage, despite finishing second this weekend, had just a single champ. That was sophomore Tatum Garcia (23-2), who was excellent over the two days. He closed 10-4 over James Bachicha of Los Lunas at 145 pounds.
La Cueva produced three champions, including undefeated senior Mario Tafoya at 152 pounds. On paper, his final against top-seeded Ryan Baca of Las Cruces, who had the top seed based on head-to-head results from last season, looked to be one of the most competitive. It wasn’t. Tafoya, the No. 2 seed, completely dominated in a 9-0 major-decision triumph (Baca’s first loss to a New Mexico wrestler) and was keen to prove that this weight class goes through himself going forward.
“Exactly the mindset I had coming in,” said Tafoya (19-0), who also had three pins this weekend. “It was more like revenge for last year.”
Also for the Bears, senior Joseph Garcia (152) and sophomore Mason Posa (189, where he is now 14-1) were first-place finishers.
Los Lunas, fifth in the team standings (141.5 points), had a champion in 215-pound senior Miguel Andrade, who spent less time on the mat than anyone in the finals. He pinned West Las Vegas’ Juan Montaño in just 34 seconds and improved his season record to 20-0.
“I try not to look at (my results) as dominating. I look at them as I need to dominate harder than I do,” a sheepish Andrade said. “If you take a lot of these big boys into the third period, they can’t last.”
Farmington had two champions: freshman Brayden Harvey, who got the finals started with a 9-4 decision over Eldorado’s Isaiah Flores at 107 pounds, and senior Ivan Smith, who pinned Atrisco Heritage’s Johnathan Casaus in 4 minutes, 59 seconds as he upped his mark this season to 25-1 with a strong showing — three pins and a major decision — at 172 pounds.
Rio Grande senior Sergio Gutierrez’s season debut was a smash, as he captured the 121-pound title, upending top-seeded Jonathon Romero of Volcano Vista. Belen’s Ely Gutierrez (19-1) rolled through the 160-pound bracket.
West Mesa senior, second-seeded Tyler Finley (23-1), capped the event with an impressive pin of Albuquerque Academy junior Brody Whitaker, the No. 1 seed, in the heavyweight match. It ended at the 3:20 mark for Whitaker (17-1).
The Albuquerque Metro Championships go to Volcano Vista in two weeks, where the top local teams will battle in the last major regular-season competition before state.
Joe Vivian Classic
Saturday — at Albuquerque HS
TEAM: Volcano Vista 199, Atrisco Heritage 170.5, Farmington 153, La Cueva 153, Los Lunas 141.5, Las Cruces 127, Belen 111.5, Hobbs 110, West Las Vegas 82, West Mesa 80, Moriarty 59.5, Carlsbad 56, Albuquerque High 48, Manzano 48, Albuquerque Academy 44, Highland 44, Valley 43, Rio Grande 42, Eldorado 40, Santa Fe 37.5, Cibola 36, Del Norte 34, Capital 29.5, Sandia 18, Mayfield 12, Bernalillo 6.
INDIVIDUAL: 107—Brayden Harvey, Farmington, dec. Isaiah Flores, Eldorado, 9-4. 114—Anthony Lopez, Volcano Vista, maj. dec. Marcus Najera, Carlsbad, 9-1. 121—Sergio Gutierrez, Rio Grande, maj. dec. Jonathan Romero, Volcano Vista, 13-4. 127—Noah Jones, Volcano Vista, TB-1 over Aaron Zamora, Los Lunas, 4-1. 133—Lorenzo Gallegos, Volcano Vista, dec. Jonathan Valdez, Moriarty, 11-4. 139—Joseph Garcia, La Cueva, dec. Jayden Garcia, Atrisco Heritage, 10-5. 145—Tatum Garcia, Atrisco Heritage, dec. James Bachicha, Los Lunas, 10-4. 152—Mario Tafoya, La Cueva, maj. dec. Ryan Baca, Las Cruces, 9-0. 160—Ely Gutierrez, Belen, dec. Jack Byers, La Cueva, 11-4. 172—Ivan Smith, Farmington, p. Johnathan Casaus, Atrisco Heritage, 4:59. 189—Mason Posa, La Cueva, dec. Isaac Foutz, Farmington, 7-0. 215—Miguel Andrade, Los Lunas, p. Juan Montaño, West Las Vegas, :34. HVWT—Tyler Finley, West Mesa, p. Brody Whitaker, Albuquerque Academy, 3:20.