Host Horsemen winners were seniors Dominic Smith and Sam Baca, as their team tied Espanola for fifth place
By Arnie Leshin
Seniors Sam Baca and Dominic Smith remained in the wrestling spotlight for host St. Michael’s, and Capital came away with the team championships at the past weekend’s 46th annual Al Salazar Memorial Invitational competed at the Perez-Shelley gymnasium.
Baca advanced his record to 16-3 by winning at 145 points and Smith won his 17th of 18 starts by copping the 138 championship. Baca scored on a fall and a tech-fall on Friday, and followed it up with three pins and a decision on Saturday. He turned back Edger Sanchez of Espanola Valley in the final via a 13-9 decision.
Smith wrapped up a pair of falls on Friday and three more on the second day to achieve a milestone with his 50th career varsity victory in the quarterfinals. In the title match, he pinned Rod Dunlap of Tucumcari in 3:15. He and Baca are the team co-captains.
While the Horsemen finished fifth among a dozen schools, the Jaguars pieced together 296 to take the top spot, with second place Cobre scoring 199.
Cobre had more winners, four, than Capitals, and added one runner-up finish, but the Jags, who produced three victories and two seconds, had more strength throughout its lineup. Their winners were defending state 5A champion, senior Ryan Romero, in the 130 weight, and defending state champion at 126 pounds, senior Jasper Mares.
Romero won on a pin in 1:51 over Joshua Sandoval of West Las Vegas ,and Mares did so via a 3-0 decision over Alex Holguin of Cobre. Capital’s two runners-up were sophomore Abel Barraza at 182, and freshman Julian Sanchez in the 195 weight.
St. Michael’s also gained a second place from sophomore Jaden Mifsud when he was pinned by Capital senior Lucas McNatt in 3:44 of the 170 pounds bout. Prior to that, Mifsud had pinned four of his five opponents.
Jags’ senior Andres Ryan placed third at 132, and Horsemen junior Tayo Regenold took the same spot at 285 by pinning four of his five opponents.
The winner at the 152 weight was Pojoaque Valley senior Javier Tapia with a pin in 1:17 over Tucumcari’s Joe Martinez. After taking first at state, he transferred over to the Elks, where his father is the coach.
Tucumcari came in third with 170 points, next with 172 was Hobbs, then came St. Michael’s and Espanola Valley deadlocked for fifth place with 116 points apiece. Newcomb took the seventh spot with 114, Los Alamos scoring 83.5 for eighth, and Santa Fe’s Tierra Encantada finished ninth with 28 points.
The next stop for Capital, St. Michael’s and Santa Fe High will be at Albuquerque Cibola High Friday and Saturday for the annual Joe Vivian Classic.