Pojoaque’s Javier Tapia Is A State Champion. Valley Schools Compete At State Wrestling Meet

Pojoaque’s Javier Tapia was the Class A-4A state champion at 152 pound
Pojoaque’s Javier Tapia was the Class A-4A state champion at 152 pound. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Pojoaque’s Javier Tapia Is A State Champion. Valley Schools Compete At State Wrestling Meet

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

For Pojoaque Valley High School sophomore Javier Tapia, it was familiar territory in a new uniform. With his arms raised in celebration, Tapia claimed his second state wrestling championship after pinning Silver High School’s Jayden Wietholter in the third period of their Class A-4A championship match in the 152-pound weight class.

A year ago, Tapia had also raised his arms in victory after defeating Piedra Vista High School’s Taylor Atencio in the Class 5A championship match in the 132-pound weight class. Last year, he wore the uniform of the Capital High School Jaguars.

Tapia transferred to Pojoaque Valley when his father, Johnny Tapia, was named head coach of the wrestling team at Pojoaque. His older brother, senior Jose Tapia, chose to stay at Capital High School for his senior year. Jose Tapia did what few wrestlers have done at this year’s state wrestling championships. He won his fifth Class 5A state championship by pinning St. Pius X High School’s Diego Pavia in the Class 5A 138-pound weight class championship match.

Pojoaque’s Javier Tapia wrestles with Silver’s Jayden Wietholder in the Class A-4A 152-pound state championship match. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Having an older brother like Jose Tapia helped Javier Tapia hone his wrestling skills and he used them to defeat Wietholter in the championship match.

“We’d wrestle all the time,” Javier Tapia said. “Even he (Jose Tapia) couldn’t turn me. I wasn’t turned once this year.”

By “turn” Tapia was referring to being in the down position at the start of the third period while your opponent is on top, then being turned onto your back by your opponent. Although it might seem like an inferior position to start in, Tapia chose to be down to start the third period in the championship match against Wietholter.

The first two periods in the Tapia-Wietholter match had seen both wrestlers feeling each other out. Neither scored any points and the score was 0-0 entering the third period. One advantage of being down is that a wrestler can score a point by executing an escape by getting to one’s feet and breaking contact with his opponent.

“I figured it would be 0-0 going into the third,” Tapia said.

Tapia did a lot more than just escape. He actually turned Wietholter and in a flash was on top. From there, he quickly pinned his opponent at 4:58 of the third period.

“I hipped him over and got on top,” Tapia said.

This is the first year Pojoaque has had a wrestling team and now the Elks have their first state champion.

Pojoaque’s Jonathan Chavez defeated Taos’ Clayton Demas to finish third at 195 pounds. Photo by George Morse with the Valley Daily Post

Tapia was not the only Pojoaque wrestler to come back from the state wrestling meet with a medal. Senior Jonathan Chavez, who had never wrestled before, came back with a third-place medal in the 195-pound weight class. In an exciting match where the action was back-and-forth, Chavez took an 11-10 decision over Taos High School’s Clayton Demas. At one time, Chavez led 11-5. Demas rallied and closed to within a point of tying the match. Chavez was able to hold on for the victory.

“At first, I wasn’t doing that good and I really wasn’t expecting to do that well,” Chavez said. “The coaches mentoring me through practice helped. It feels good after putting in so much hard work. Everything I learned I learned from ‘Scrub Nation.’”

“Scrub Nation” is what Pojoaque called themselves. Coach Johnny Tapia knew building a team from scratch would be a challenge.

“You start from ground zero,” Coach Tapia said. “The basics like stance and maneuvers. I’ve been coaching for 18 years and I know what wrestlers need to succeed. Too bad he (Chavez) is a senior.”

Pojoaque’s Jonathan Chavez took third place in the 195-pound weight class. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Pojoaque sent nine wrestlers to their inaugural state wrestling meet. Johnathan Velarde (126 pounds) and Henry Roybal (170 pounds) each picked up a victory on the mat before being eliminated. Also competing for Pojoaque were: Brenden Fresquez (113 pounds), Matthew Martinez (120 pounds), Sebastian Rubio (132 pounds), Josh Roybal (220 pounds), Brayan Chiquito (285 pounds).

The Elks scored 46 points and finished eighth in the team standings. Silver High School took first place with 222 points in Class A-4A. 

“The kids worked hard,” Coach Tapia said. “I’m real proud of the progress we’re making.”

Senior Dominic Medina came back with Espanola Valley High School’s lone medal from the 2017 Class 5A state wrestling championships. Medina, who had placed third at the 2016 Class 5A state wrestling meet last year at 113 pounds, finished fourth this year at 113 pounds.

Espanola senior Dominic Medina took fourth place in the 113-pound weight class. Photo by George Morse with the Valley Daily Post

“Considering how tough it started,” Medina said. “I had gone from missing half the season, came out late and fought to come back. I went through some bad stuff and I’m bringing a state medal back to Espanola.”

Medina faced disciplinary action and was involved in an automobile accident before returning to the mat midway through the season.

“It was unfortunate that he missed half the season,” Espanola Coach Aaron Salinas said. “He needed more mat time.”

Medina won his first match by pinning Albuquerque Academy’s Andre Rodriguez, then lost a close 8-7 decision to Valencia High School’s Jondiego Archuleta. In the consolation round, Medina won his next two matches by pinning his opponents. In the consolation semifinals, he took a 5-3 decision over Los Alamos High School’s Donovan Atencio that went into the sudden victory overtime period.

Medina met Valencia’s Archuleta again in the third-place match. Archuleta pinned Medina to take third place.

Espanola’s Dominic Medina lost to Valencia’s Jondiego Archuleta and finished fourth at 113-pounds. Photo by George Morse with the Valley Daily Post

Espanola senior Amado Ramirez nearly made it to the medal round, but lost a close 2-1 decision to Deming High School’s Ryan Larko in the third round of consolation at 132 pounds. Ramirez won his opening round match, lost in the quarterfinal and won his match in the second round of consolation before being eliminated.

Senior Mario Martinez won his opening match at 126 pounds. He lost in the quarterfinal round and was eliminated in a sudden victory loss to Diego Lopez of Valencia in the second round of consolation

Edgar Sanchez (138 pounds), Ace Gabrentina (220 pounds) and Kalub Romero (285 pounds) also competed for Espanola. The Sundevils finished 19th in the team standings with 27 points. Belen High School took first place with 211 points.