By Arnie Leshin
It will be a busy day on the mats today when the state wrestling tournament is contested at the Santa Ana Star Centerin Rio Rancho.
St. Michael’s, in A-3A, qualified 10 and this includes four district champions. Probably the best chance for the Horsemen to claim state titles would come from senior Jaden Mifsud in the 170-pound weight and junior Santiago Martinez at 285. Both have impressive regular-season records, Mifsud at 21-1and Martinez at 23-2, and both are coming off district championships.
In 5A are Capital and Santa Fe High, and they have several grapplers who could hoist trophies, hopefully championship trophies.
The Jaguars qualified six, with five having won district, and feature senior Jasper Mares and junior Julian Sanchez. Mares is in the 126 weight, has put together a 23-4 mark and won district. Sanchez settled for second place at district in the 220 weight and owns a 34-2 record, so he fell just two short of an undefeated record and looking for a top three finish.
The Demons qualified eight, five of whom won district. Happy to land in the state tournament is senior Issac Beltran, who was among the best in his weight last year, but never made it to state after getting suspended for the remainder of the season for punching his opponent in a tournament bout he was winning handily.
Now he’s in there, a senior with a 26-4 record at 138, and he would no doubt love to finish with a state title after winning district. Then there’s sophomore Elijah Martinez who comes in with a 28-2 mark at 182, and he, too, took first at districts.
Unbeaten is junior Miguel Padilla at 17-0and in the 132 weight, and this includes the district championship.
Twenty six qualifiers is an impressive number for the three Santa Fe schools, and surprises can happen, for they do every year. The tournament starts both days at 9 in the morning, with the quarterfinals, semis and finals contested Saturday,