Española District Wrestling

by Staff Reporter / Feb 13, 2018 / comments
Española’s Joey Fernandez tries to hold down Los Alamos’ Devin Atencio. Atencio pinned Fernandez to take first place in the 106-pound weight class. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Española District Wrestling

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

Española Valley High School hosted the District 2-5A wrestling tournament Feb. 10 at Edward Medina Gym. The Sundevils will be sending four wrestlers to the Class 5A state wrestling championships.

In the 106-pound weight class, eighth-grader Joey Fernandez took second-place. Fernandez attends McCurdy Charter School but competes for Española because McCurdy does not have a wrestling program. He pinned Albuquerque Academy’s Jackson Rodgers in the semifinals to advance to the championship match. Fernandez had a record of 15-12 in his first year of competition.

Fernandez faced the top-ranked wrestler in the state in the finals. Los Alamos High School freshman Devin Atencio has a 33-2 record this season. Fernandez put up a game battle against his superior opponent. Atencio eventually prevailed, pinning Fernandez at 3:23 of the match.

“I feel pretty encouraged being an eighth-grader and making it to state,” Fernandez said. “I feel pretty confident. Just stay focused, concentrate and listen to my coaches.”

In the 126-pound weight class, sophomore Alejandro Santizo pinned Del Norte High School’s Exsavior Sanchez at 2:39 of his match to take third place. Santizo pinned Los Alamos’ Liam Johnson in the opening round. He lost to Capital High School’s Jasper Mares in a 12-2 decision in the semifinals.

Española’s Alejandro Santizo pinned Del Norte’s Exsavior Sanchez to take third in the 126-pound weight class. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post3957  Española’s Joey Fernandez tries to hold down Los Alamos’ Devin Atencio. Atencio pinned Fernandez to take first place in the 106-pound weight class. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

“I’ve been wrestling for three years,” Santizo said. “This is my first year going to state. That reflects on my hard work. I love the sport. It’s very exciting-one-on-one.”

In the 145-pound weight class, junior Edgar Sanchez pinned Los Alamos’ Trevor Brown to take third place. Sanchez received a bye in the opening round. He lost by a 10-6 decision to Academy’s Sebastian Martin in the semifinals. Sanchez pinned Capital’s Jacob Miller in just 19 seconds in his next match to advance to the third-place match. There, he pinned Los Alamos’ Trevor Brown at 2:16 of the match to take third place.

Española’s Edgar Sanchez pinned Los Alamos’ Trevor Brown to take third place in the 145-pound weight class. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

“I got the flu and I kinda slacked,” Sanchez said. “I’m going to hit it hard. Determination gets you to state.”

Sanchez is looking forward to facing Martin again. He defeated Martin twice during the season.

“If I run into him again, I’ll take him out,” Sanchez said. “Thursday (2/15) we’re going to go to Atrisco Heritage (High School) in Albuquerque and work with (former Española Valley wrestling coach) Henry MacErnie.”

The top three wrestlers in their weight class from the district meet automatically qualify for state.

Española senior Sam Garde came out for the wrestling team for the first time this season. Wrestling in the Heavyweight (285 pounds) class, Garde was pinned by Los Alamos’ Milo Light in the semifinals. In the third place match, Garde lost to Academy’s Pete Mcintosh in an 8-4 decision. Despite finishing fourth, Garde advanced to the state wrestling championships as a “Wild Card” entry. To fill out the 16-man bracket for state championships, if not enough wrestlers qualify at the district meets, a “Wild Card” entry is selected by his winning percentage to fill the vacancy. Garde (4-9) had the best percentage.

Española’s Sam Garde lost to Academy’s Pete Mcintosh in an 8-4 decision. He finished fourth and advanced to state as a “Wild Card” entry. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

“I’m very happy for him,” Española wrestling coach Aaron Salnas said. “Like most guys who come out their senior year, he wishes he had started sooner.”

Half of this year’s wrestling team at Española was made up of students who attend McCurdy. At one time a dominant force in district competition, Española has struggled to fill out a full team in all weight classes in recent years. The Sundevils had to forfeit seven matches at the district tournament because they had no participants in those weight classes. Salinas is hoping to bring back the wrestling program at Española.

Coach Salinas was named District 2-5A Coach of the Year.

“I think the other coaches respect me and the program I have,” Coach Salinas said. “I stick around. If I had a full team we’d be right there with everybody else.”

RESULTS FROM THE DISTRICT 2-5A WRESTLING MEET

Team Results: First Place Los Alamos High School 188 points. Second Place Capital High School 159 points. Third Place Del Norte High School 154.5 points. Fourth Place Albuquerque Academy 144 points. Fifth Place Española Valley High School 66 points.

District Champions: 106 pounds Devin Atencio (Los Alamos). 113 pounds Frankie Baca (Del Norte). 120 pounds Ryan Romero (Capital). 126 pounds Jasper Mares (Capital). 132 pounds James Ortega (Del Norte). 138 pounds Israel Gellis (Los Alamos). 145 pounds Orlando Apodaca (Del Norte). 152 pounds Nathaniel Rubio (Del Norte). 160 pounds Jovanie Guzman (Capital). 170 pounds Lucas McNatt (Capital). 182 pounds Dylan Irish (Los Alamos). 195 pounds Coleton Radford (Del Norte). 220 pounds Nathanniel Hollaway (Academy). 285 pounds Milo Light (Los Alamos).

The New Mexico State Wrestling Championships will be held Friday (2/16) and Saturday (2/17) at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.