Santa Fe High senior Isaiah Martinez takes state in the 170 weight, the only wrestler from the Santa Fe school to do so in the state championships Seven others gain championship final, three from the Demons, three from Capital, two from St. Michael’s
By Arnie Leshin
Two years in a row, Santa Fe High can crown a Martinez for winning the state 6A wrestling championship.
Last season, it was Sam Martinez, now a junior who had to settle this time for fifth place in the 145 weight at the Rio Rancho Santa Ana Star Center Saturday. He had a 38-5 campaign.
This time, it was senior Isaiah Martinez, and the two are not related. Isaiah was relieved to win a state title in his last try, and he did so at 170 pounds.
He worked quickly, which is probably because he was so anxious to finally win gold. He took on Las Cruces senior Brandon Baeza in the final. Last year, he had to settle for the runner-up spot in a crushing loss to Rio Rancho’s Ryan Rochford at 152 pounds.
“I was hungry this time,” he said. “I just wanted to go out there and dominate.”
It didn’t take long before he got Baeza on his back and posted a near-fall in the opening 30 seconds to grab a 5-0 lead. He continued being the aggressor in the opening period, and after trading points with Baeza, went on top 7-2.
Then, with Martinez, working on a pin, Baeza tried to stay away while Martinez looked for an opening.
“I was trying to finish the match,” he said, “by putting him on his back and pinning him. After that, I went for the point lead.”
It ended with Martinez coming away with a 9-3 decision to bring his school the only state champion, as neighbors Capital, in 5A, and St. Michael’s, in 4A, were shut out of titles.
Martinez wound up at 36-5 and also captured the district title. Baeza concluded at 35-10.
Two other Demons gained the championship round, as did the Jaguars and St. Michael’s. The Horsemen were led all season by seniors Dominic Smith and Sam Baca, but both came up short after taking third last season.
At 138, Smith employed three straight pins to set up the final against Cobre freshman Alex Holguin. This was a tight tussle, a taut defensive stand in which Smith used a pair of escapes to counter Holguin’s second period reversal and force overtime.
In the sudden death overtime, it was Holguin working the takedown to secure a 5-2 victory. Smith was not happy about losing such a close match and he finished at 38-7 while Holguin won for the 37th time in 47 bouts.
Baca was the other St. Michael’s finalist and he gained the 152-pount final before losing in a 4:00 fall to Michael Aguirre of Silver. Baca wound down at 33-9.
Also gaining the final for the Demons were freshman Miguel Padilla (113) and sophomore Issac Beltran (120). Both came up with impressive seasons before bowing.
Padilla (37-9) dropped a 10-4 decision to Tristen Mascarena of Rio Rancho Cleveland. Beltran (29-5) lost via a 6-5 decision to Issac Garcia of Albuquerque Manzano. Mascarena posted a 36-2 record and Garcia went 28-4.
In the 145 weight, Sam Martinez (36-5) placed fifth with a fall in 3:58 versus Ian Catanach of Albuquerque High. With number one seed Nick Rino, a senior out of Piedra Vista, finishing at 42-0, Martinez should have another shot at gold next season. Same with the team’s other Martinez, Izaak, a freshman who wound up at 15-15 in the 106 weight.
Of the other Demon grapplers that qualified, only Isaiah Martinez and Santiago Lujan are seniors.
Capital, on the other hand, qualified eight and five are seniors, including last year’s champion Ryan Romero, who lost in the 120 final this time to Joseph Griego, 7-6, and wind up at 36-8.
Jasper Mares, a sophomore, also tried to repeat, but came up short in the 126 final with an 8-6 setback to Christian Roberson of Aztec, and he concluded at 39-3.
Also in the final for the Jags was senior Julian Sanchez, who finished at 27-8 with an 8-6 defeat against Ian Thomas of Kirtland Central in the 195 weight.
St. Michael’s had six qualifiers, and Smith and Baca are the only seniors.
There was only one champion coming from the Santa Fe schools, but enough close finals did the trick, for most could have gone either way.
NOTE: The inaugural girl’s tournament took place and it brought wrestlers from 20 schools in the state. The team title went to Myamura with 58 points, with second place Albuquerque Atrisco Heritage scoring 42 and third place Taos turning in 39.
Seven weights were decided from 106 to 185 pounds. Myamura came away with two champions, and Aztec, Albuquerque Highland, Taos, Ruidoso and Atrisco Heritage had one each.