Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Wrestlers take home medals


February 27, 2019

Ron Warnick

Tucumcari coach Eddie Encinias, left, and assistant coach Dennis Garcia console Tucumcari 145-pound wrestler Rod Dunlap after he lost his Class 3A championship match Saturday to Foothill's Alex Gutierrez at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.

RIO RANCHO - The Tucumcari wrestling team took home four medals - including a Class 3A state title by Kaleb Hayes - during the NMAA state wrestling championships Saturday at the Santa Ana Star Center.

Hayes (21-6), a senior who finished third last year, captured the title by defeating Javier Mares (27-8) of Las Vegas (Robertson) in a 3-1 decision in the 220-pound finals.

Tucumcari senior Rod Dunlap, competing at 145 pounds, and junior Joe Martinez at 152 each fell in their championship match. Aleayah Lucero, a junior competing in the 121-pound girls class, finished third to become Tucumcari's first female wrestler to earn a state medal.

In the second period of his title match, Hayes scored an escape and a takedown against Mares for a 3-0 lead that held up during his fourth bout this season against the Robertson senior.

When the final buzzer sounded, Hayes dropped to his knees, gazed upward and pointed to the heavens with both hands. Tucumcari coach Eddie Encinias jumped for joy, and he and assistant coach Dennis Garcia briefly hoisted Hayes up on their shoulders to cheers from the Tucumcari spectators.

"We had to score first and break this guy down," Encinias said about his wrestler's game plan against Mares. "We had to stay away from him, because he's a good thrower. The previous time he beat Kaleb was with throws, so we worked on that to tie him up and not get thrown. Kaleb did exactly what he needed to do."

Hayes said his coach's insistence on conditioning also helped.

"Coach, he prepares us so well," Hayes said. "He probably makes us run more than we should, but that gives us our cardio work, and I was able to keep up with him every step of the way. I knew he was getting tired, and I knew I could beat him all three periods. We had to wear him down, keep him on his back and get my points."

Hayes hinted he also was motivated to make his last high-school match a memorable one.

"It was take it to the limit one last time," he said. "I was able to do that today. I gave it all."

Hayes pinned Tierra Encantada's Nick Lash and Cobre's Dominique Espinoza to advance to the finals.

Encinias acknowledged being on an emotional roller coaster all weekend. Qualifying 13 wrestlers, he thought he'd have a chance for Tucumcari to have several state champions. That goal didn't pan out, but that didn't dim his pride for his wrestlers.

"It's a crazy ride, and I've been blessed with these guys," he said. "I hope I did as much for them as they did for me. All I did was open the gym; they did all the work."

Dunlap, sporting a record of 29-1 going into the finals, was considered the favorite to win a state crown. But Alex Gutierrez (32-9) of Foothill, whom Dunlap had defeated at a meet earlier in the season, had other ideas. Gutierrez used a patient approach, scoring takedowns in the second and third periods as Dunlap struggled to tally points during a 5-1 loss.

"My fault. ... I tried to wrestle him the same, and I figured he'd try to wrestle me the same," Dunlap said. "He wasn't trying to rush his moves. He went in knowing moves he couldn't hit and ones he could. He was stronger, and his conditioning and technique were so much better. The last time I saw him, he was gassed halfway through the second period, and I was able to score a lot easier. I talked to his coach afterwards; they were planning against me basically all year."

"What he's accomplished this year with his record, he had just one bad match at state, and it's too bad," Encinias said. "But he's a champion in his own right."

Dunlap advanced to the finals by pinning Wingate's Kai Lucio and Socorro's Francisco Encinias.

In his 152-pound championship bout against Cobre's Alex Holguin (19-1), Martinez (22-6) never got anything going and lost by a 16-1 technical fall midway through the second period.

"He was tough ... real tough," Martinez said. "He ended up kicking my butt."

Martinez said he was happy just to make it to the state tournament.

"Honestly, my goal was to win district," he said. "After that, everything else was just a bonus."

Martinez advanced by defeating Socorro's Braedon Bardwell by technical fall and West Las Vegas' Emilio Lopez in a 6-2 decision.

Encinias said he looked forward to having Martinez back for the 2019-2020 season.

"Joe Martinez is the hardest worker in the room," Encinias said. "He will outwork anybody, and he deserves what he gets. He's going to be very, very hard to deal with next year."

Lucero ended her season with a 6-3 victory over Belen's Cailean Romero in the 121-pound girls third-place match. Lucero pinned Rio Grande's Esmeralda Moran in the first round, fell 9-1 to eventual state champion Melinda Modisette of Academy in the semifinals, then pinned Moriarty's Caia Kamplain in the consolation round.

"She's a tough girl," Encinias said of Lucero. "I'm so happy for her. She deserves it. She goes against the guys all the time in practice because she doesn't have a girl to wrestle against. She takes a licking and keeps going."

Other Tucumcari results at the state meet:

• At 113 pounds, Ricky Montano lost to Pecos' Israel Villegas by pin in the first round and forfeited to Newcomb's Ethan Begay in the consolation round.

• At 120, Charles Prieto lost to Socorro's Andre Gonzales by pin in the opener, pinned Wingate's Jordan Jones, pinned Robertson's Izaiah Cunningham and lost the third-place match to Gonzales by pin.

• At 126, Damon Page lost to Socorro's Joel Partridge by pin in the opener and lost by pin to Wingate's Cody Ramone in the consolation round.

• At 132, Julian Vargas pinned Socorro's Andrew Garcia in the opener, was pinned by Robertson's Andrew Trujillo and fell 6-0 to West Las Vegas' Jonathan Chavez in the third-place match.

• At 160, Karl Jiminez lost by pin in the opener against Pecos' Thomas Vigil and then was pinned by Cobre's Arthur Quintana in the consolation round.

• At 170, Reyes Garcia was pinned by West Las Vegas' Austin Abeyta in the opener and was pinned by Wingate's Talon Ahasteen in the consolation round.

• At 182, Colt Garcia won his opener by pin against Socorro's Bradon Amaro, lost by pin to Cobre's Marley Gutierrez in the semifinals and fell by pin to Pecos' Derik Ortiz in the third-place match.

• At 195, Dyson Clark won his opener by pin against Wingate's Harold Williams, lost by pin to Cobre's Leon Vigil and lost in the consolation round to Socorro's Xavier Otero in a 10-1 decision.

• At 285, Jordan Marquez lost the opener by pin to Robertson's Michael Garcia and lost by pin to Cobre's Reagen Arsola in the consolation round.

In the Class 3A team standings, Tucumcari finished fifth with 85.5 points. Cobre scored more points than any team in any division, with 240. Robertson finished runner-up with 142, with Socorro (142) and West Las Vegas (118.5) filling out the rest of the pack.


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