Twenty nine teams, two days.
Those were the challenges in front of the Ruidoso wrestling team at the Robertson Cardinal Classic, Jan. 27-28, and the wrestlers they were facing were some of the best in the state.
Out of those 29 teams, Ruidoso was 21st, so it might be difficult to count the weekend as a success.
But Ruidoso coach Andy Olive said it was much more valuable in terms of mat time.
“Absolutely, especially from a scouting perspective,” Olive said. “A lot of team we’ll see at state were there. I was hoping we could get to wrestle Cobre and Silver, but our paths didn’t cross.”
Actually, Michael Marin did face off against Cobre heavyweight Rylyn Phillips, earning a victory with a pin in the second round.
Marin went 4-1 on day one, earning a spot in the elite Gold bracket. Day two wasn’t as great, as he fell to Dante Norberto of Farmington and David Soto of Goddard.
However, he was able to salvage a victory and a seventh-place finish with a pin of Matthew Lujan of West Las Vegas to ultimately earn his team 33 points.
Senior Tobias Spitty finished 3-2 on day one and took on Bernalillo’s Shawn Mase in the Silver bracket, winning by fall in the third period.
He also got a win over Jaden Mifsud of St. Michael’s, eventually finishing 12th at 160.
At 120, eighth grader Joseph Morales was 13th, defeating Isaac Felts of Los Lunas in his final match with a 10-6 decision, while Connor Jameson was also 12th in the Silver bracket at 138, eventually falling to Kirtland Central’s Isaiah Jones on a slim 6-4 decision.
Ruidoso has a duals match at Alamogordo on Thursday, facing off against teams from Centennial, Oñate and – of course – Alamogordo.
Olive is excited to see how his team can do in a duals format. In the four years he’s been coaching wrestling at Ruidoso High, his kids haven’t won a single dual.
They haven’t even had enough wrestlers at each weight class to compete in a dual.
But there’s a lot more bodies to put on the mat for the Warriors now, and several should get wins.
All this is in preparation of the District 3/4-4A duals tournament at Cobre on Feb. 4.
“We’ll just have to wait and see how things turn out there,” Olive said of district. “Our goal this week is to continue to practice with a no quit, never say never mentality.
“We’re going to continue to build off our strengths, and focus on fine tuning any blemishes in our technique,” he concluded.