By Arnie Leshin
Given the No. 3 seed didn’t matter to Issac Beltran, whose only thoughts were to make up for lost tine by winning a state wrestling championship.
The Santa Fe High senior was mowing down opponents last year and almost a sure thing to make it to state when he fought in the annual Joe Vivian Classic in Albuquerque, and with a size able advantage over Taylor Jackson of Albuquerque Academy, a frustrated Jackson reached for Beltran’s hair and annoyed Beltran responded with a punch that knocked Jackson down. For this, the New Mexico Activities Association suspended Beltran for the remainder of the season, so instead of being out there on the mats, he became a spectator and a Demons cheerleader.
Now he was there, and after already finishing first at district, now he was competing for a championship at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, and he was raring to go, pinning his first three opponents and meeting up in the final with Albuquerque Heritage junior Emilio Cordova. Quickly, Beltranattacked with a take down, then another take down that Cordova managed to get out of, and then a near fall brought Beltran a 10-2 advantage on the way to a 16-5 decision and the 5A 138-pound weight championship and a 30-4 season record.
It was a whole lot different moment from last year when he now got to hoist the championship trophy. He was probably ready when he came off the bus, and knew no one was going to get in his way. No. 3 seed? He couldn’t care less, he knew he was No. 1 on the mats.
Beltran was the only Demon to win state, but in A-3A, St. Michael’s celebrated two.
They were senior Jaden Mifsud and junior Santiago Martinez, both also district champions.
Mifsud won for the 27th time in 28 bouts by rallying to pin West Las Vegas senior Javier Cordova at 1:36 of the second period of the 170-pound weight. Earlier, Cordova came up with a take down and near fall to grab a 4-0 lead, but it didn’t take long for Mifsud to score a reversal, put Cordova on his back and end it with a pin.
In the heavyweight weight of 285 pounds, Martinez came away with his 27th victory in 29 starts by pinning Tierra Encantada same-name senior Santiago Maness 13 seconds into the second period.
Of the three Santa Fe schools that had qualifiers at state, St. Michael’s had the most with 10, Santa Fe High had eight, and Capital six. The Jaguars brought three district champions, the Demons had five, and the Horsemen four.