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Española  Wrestlers Gain Momentum At Jan. 18 Meet

Española’s Mario Martinez. Photo by George Morse/

Valley Daily Post
With four seniors leading the way, the Española  Valley High School wrestling team continues to improve and grow during the season. The Sundevils hosted a District 2-5A Duals meet Jan. 18 at Española  and traveled to Aztec for the Aztec Tiger Duals hosted by Aztec High School.
At the Duals competition, the Sundevils were defeated by Los Alamos High School 46-30 and by Del Norte High School 51-28.
Of the four seniors, Dominic Medina and Mario Martinez led the way. Medina, back in action after recovering from an automobile accident, wrestles at 113 pounds. His first competition was at the prestigious Joe Vivian Classic Jan. 13-14 in Albuquerque. The Joe Vivian features some of the top wrestlers in the state, regardless of Class, facing each other. Medina went 3-2 in his matches.
“I took them to that tournament because they need to wrestle the best in the state,” Española  Coach Aaron Salinas said. “They showed they could hang with them.”
Martinez also had three wins and two losses at the Joe Vivian.
At the District Duals competition, Medina won a match by forfeit, then defeated Los Alamos’ Donovan Atencio in an 11-1 decision. Martinez won both his matches at 126 pounds by pins, defeating Los Alamos’ Israel Gellis and Del Norte’s Brandon Ripley.
Medina, who placed third at the Class 5A state wrestling tournament last season, is glad to be back on the mat.
“It’s a great feeling,” Medina said. “I need to work hard and get after it every day. No excuses.”
Martinez is looking to finish his career by placing at state for the first time.
‘The guys I beat still want to beat me,” Martinez said. “I have to work that much harder.”
Seniors Amado Ramirez and Marcos Gallegos also did well at the District Duals. Ramirez defeated Los Alamos’ Neil DeHerrera and lost to Del Norte’s James Ortega. Gallegos won both his matches by pins against Los Alamos’ Dimitri Bullock and Del Norte’s Andrew Gonzales.  Also recording a victory at District Duals was Alejandro Santizo, who pinned Del Norte’s Julian Gamboa at 120 pounds.
Making his debut at District Duals with the Sundevils was Ace Gabrentina at 220 pounds. Gabrentina attends McCurdy Charter School, but wrestles for Española  because McCurdy does not have a wrestling team. Although he lost both his matches, he was able to hang with his opponents. “He’s my ‘Ace up my sleeve,’” Coach Salinas said. “He hung in there with two of the toughest guys in the district.”
Gabrentina picked up his first victory on the mat, as well as winning two matches by forfeit, at the Aztec Duals. He defeated Eldean Lammert of Utah’s Monticello High School in a 10-2 decision. He was 3-2 at Aztec.
At Aztec, the Sundevils competed in San Juan 41-21, lost to Kirtland 49-21 and lost to Bloomfield 40-30. Wrestling in the third-place bracket against teams that finished third in the other two pools, Española  lost to Farmington High School 60-24 and to Monticello 44-28.
Martinez had an outstanding showing at Aztec, winning all five of his matches. He was one of five nominees for “The Heart of a Champion” award.
Medina was equally impressive, also winning all five of his matches. Gonzales, Gabrentina and Ramirez all finished 3-2 in their matches at Aztec. The progress of the team has been noticed by the seniors. “We’ve improved a lot,” Martinez said. “We still need to improve a lot more. We did a lot better than the last time.” Coach Salinas hopes the improvement continues right up until and including the State Wrestling tournament Feb. 17 and Feb. 18 at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.“I want to be peaking right at state,” he said.
The Sundevils will compete at the Robertson Cardinal Classic tournament hosted by Robertson High School Jan. 27 and Jan. 28 in Las Vegas.