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Optimism is High for Capital Wrestling Team

Optimism is high for Capital wrestling after a stellar last season, as head coach Marcos Gallegos welcomes back 18 returnees that includes state champions Jasper Mares and Ryan Romero

In the season opener Saturday, senior Lucas McNatt, Mares, Romero, and sophomore Emma George impress

Arnie Leshin

By ARNIE LESHIN, Santa Fe Today

How does this season look for the Capital High wrestling team?

Excellent, if you want to know. It comes off a campaign that featured a best-ever second place in the 5A championships, seventh overall among the other classes, returns 18 that includes two state champs, and seven others that placed at state.

Under head coach Marcos Gallegos now in his 13th season as head coach and 15th overall, the Jaguars began the new season Saturday at the Tom Torres Duals in Los Lunas, and it could be called an impressive start.

They introduced the other gender, sophomore Emma George, sister of the two wrestlers, Alex and Adrian, who competed for Santa Fe High and Capital, and she responded by winning three of her four 106-pound bout. Two came via pins, and one by decision, with the setback coming on a pin. She did not wrestle last year, but got in some matches as an 8th grader.

“She’s improving,” Gallegos said, “but we’ll see.”

Then there was senior Lucas McNatt taking to the mats in preparation for defending his state 5A high jump championship. He was perfect at 170, winning all of his five matches, two by forfeits, two by decisions, and one by a pin. He didn’t place at state last year and hopes to do this time, his second season on the mats.

Of the state champions, back is 120 winner Jasper Mares, a sophomore, and senior Ryan Romero, the 113 champion. Both were in midseason form, winning all five of their bouts. Jacob Jiron, who finished fourth at state in the 160 weight, is no longer with the team, and sophomore Jonathan Romero, runner-up at 106, will now switch to 113.

Can’t forget junior Manuel Carrillo who placed fourth at state in the 220 weight, and sophomore Abel Barraza, who took sixth in the 152. Carrillo did all five matches and won four of them, while Barraza won on forfeits in his two bouts.

Other returnees who did well in the opener were freshman Julian Sanchez (195), senior Andres Ryan (132), junior Daniel Guerrea (150), and junior Sean Ulibarri (138). Sanchez, Ryan and Guerrea turned in a 3-0 effort and Ulibarri won twice.

The Jags had two other state champions in Jose Tapia (139) and Alex Wisdom (132) both graduating. Tapia had a remarkable five years and concluded with a 37-2 record last season, both losses coming on forfeits. Wisdom went 41-4. Both are now wrestling at New Mexico Highlands in Las Vegas.

“It’s early,” Gallegos said, “and it was a pretty good start, but there’s still work to be done. The team did show grit, toughness and heart Saturday.”

In the team scores, Capital won three times, managed one tie, and lost once. It best Las Cruces Onate, 48-24. Tucumcari, 51-27, Los Lunas, 39-36, tied with Valencia 33-33, although the Jaguars won by way of the tiebreaker, and lost 51-21 to Rio Rancho Cleveland.

No doubt Cleveland was the toughest opponent and other Jaguar who scored a win on the mats was McNatt, who claimed a 9-3 decision over Kyman Castillo. The other Capital wins here were by forfeits.

“Last year was our best finish, second, “ said Gallegos, “and we’d like to win the whole thing, but like I said, It’s early and we’ve got a ways to go.”

Wednesday, the squad travels to 6A Rio Rancho High, always one of the best in the state. Saturday, Capital hosts the annual Jaguar Invite, with 17 schools, included Santa Fe High, in the field.

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