Sundevils Send Five Two State, Two As District Champions

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Española senior Edgar Sanchez (center) won the District 2-4A championship Feb. 16 at Los Alamos. Sanchez has a record of 27-2 and has pinned 25 of his opponents. Junior Nicko Pacheco (right) was the District 2-4A champion at 132 poinds, defeating Pojoaque Valley's Brenden Fresquez. Junior Martin Martinnez (left) qualified for state by finishing third in the 152-pound weight class.

Sundevils Wrestlers Send Five To State, Two As District Champions

By George Morse

The Española Valley High School wrestling team will send five wrestlers to the New Mexico State wrestling tournament Friday and Saturday at the Santa Ana Star Center.

Leading the group will be senior and team captain Edgar Sanchez. It’s been one heck of a year already for Sanchez. He received a full-ride Davis New Mexico Scholarship to the University of Denver in January. He could end his high school wrestling career with a state championship. A wrestler since his freshman year when he decided just to lose some weight, he ended up appreciating the competition and the discipline the sport required. Sanchez has steadily improved. Last season, as a junior, he was proud to say “my record doesn’t suck anymore.”

This year, his record not only doesn’t suck, it shines. By pinning Los Alamos High School’s’ Teke Nieto in the 145-pound weight class at the District 2-4A individual championships Feb. 16 at Los Alamos, Sanchez won his first district championship.

Sanchez has an outstanding 27-2 record this season and has pinned 25 of his opponents. In the seedings for the state wrestling tournament, Sanchez is seeded second in the 145-pound weight-class bracket. Aztec High School’s Hunter Medina has the top seed. Medina has a 35-8 record. Medina is dropping down in weight class from last season. He finished fourth at state in the 160-pound weight class in 2018. Because Medina is a retuning state placer and Sanchez is not is likely why Medina received the top seed. A state placer is a wrestler who finished in the top six in their weight class at the state wrestling tournament. Despite his fine record this season, Sanchez has never placed at the state wrestling tournament. That will likely change this year.

Sanchez will face Taos’ Jason Montoya in the opening round of the Class 4A wrestling tournament Friday. Montoya has a record of 4-18 this season.

“I’ve been working really hard,” Sanchez said. “Getting ready for state. It’s the last week of my career.”

Nicko Pacheco will be joining Sanchez at the state tournament, also as a District 2-4A champion. Pacheco pinned Pojoaque Valley’s Brenden Fresquez in the 132-pound weight class at the District 2-4A meet. Pacheco has a record of 27-13 this season. A junior, Pacheco has been wrestling since the eighth grade. He has set his sights high.

“I’m going after first,” he said. “If you don’t think you can win it all you shouldn’t go.”

Pacheco will face Bloomfield’s Diego Snell-Martinez in the opening round. Snell-Martinez has a record of 10-9 this season.

Also advancing to state was junior Martin Martinez. Martinez was not able to compete at the District 2-4A meet because he had suffered a cut that required stitches during the week in practice before the district meet. However, he was able to qualify for state because there were only three wrestlers in the 152-pound weight class. So he finished third and the top three wrestlers from the district meet qualify for state. He will be able to compete at state.

“I feel good,” Martinez said. “Happy I can go to state. Wrestling is a good, discipline sport. A lot of pain.”

Martinez has a record of 9-14 this season. He will face Grants’ Jordan Mantilla in the opening round. Mantilla has a record of 20-10 this season.

Although they did not finish in the top three at the District 2-4A meet, Española eighth-grader Tsosie Toure and freshman Gabriel Manzanares later received wild-card berths to state. Because they received very low seeds, they will face tough opening matches.

Tsosie, with a record of 12-14, will face Belen’s Dominic Romero with a 34-6 record. Manzanareshas a record of 10-15 and will face Steven Sanchez of St. Pius X High School with a 23-7 record.

Española Coach Aaron Salinas was an assistant coach back in the glory days of the Española wrestling program, when the Sundevils won five straight district titles between 2003 and 2008. Española wrestlers have won eight individual state championships in school history. Sanchez could make it nine.

“He has an excellent chance,” Coach Salinas said. “He’s really strong. If his opponent makes a mistake and Edgar gets them on their back, it’s over. I want to build the wrestling program back to where it was.”

Española's Edgar Sanchez pinned Los Alamos' Teke Nieto to win the District 2-4A championship in the 145-pound weight class. Sanchez is seeded second in the 145-pound weight class at the Class 4A state wrestling tournament. He has a 27-2 record with 25 pinsand has an excellent chance of bringing home the gold to Española as a state champion. The state wrestling tournament will be held Friday and Saturday at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio  Rancho (photo by John McHale).

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