Wrestling achieving critical mass

Photo by Todd Fuqua Junior Conner Jameson, seen here during the State wrestling tournament last season, is back for the Warrior team.

RUIDOSO – Growing a program can be a challenge if you aren’t starting early.

That was the impetus of Ruidoso starting its wrestling program at the middle school, and the youth programs such as the Lincoln County Warriors and Young Guns have made a difference as well.

Photo by Todd Fuqua Ruidoso senior Armando Gallerito works on a wrestling drill during practice before the start of the season.

That’s why Ruidoso High coach Andy Olive is so excited to get things going on the mat this year. He’s got a ton of kids with tons of talent.

“Wrestling is all about mindset, intensity and a never-quit attitude,” Olive said. “It’s grown every year, and this is the first year we’ve had this many guys come back. They’re buying into the program.”

Olive estimates he’ll have about 30 athletes in the program – middle school and high school – with several of those still playing on the Warrior football team.

That’s why the wrestling schedule doesn’t really get going in earnest until the Las Cruces Invitational, Dec. 9-10. The Warriors are at a Goddard scrimmage this weekend (Nov. 18) and will be at a quad in Alamogordo Dec. 5.

Among the many wrestlers Olive is waiting on from the gridiron is sophomore Mikey Marin, who was second at State in the heavyweight division after a double overtime loss.

Others coming over from football will be juniors Conner Jameson, Layson Powell, Hunter Stevens, Jarren Wilson and Adrian Garcia. Sophomores Leonel Mora and Cody Powers round out the group.

Photo by Todd FuquaMikey Marin, right, seen in his match against Taos’ Morgan Thompson at last year’s State tournament, is looking for a State title this time around.

Things are moving smoothly, mainly because Olive doesn’t have to teach and re-teach the fundamentals to his athletes.

“I would attribute that to us starting the middle school program, getting them started young,” Olive said. “Also, that’s thanks to the youth wrestling programs. Many thanks to the families for getting those established. It’s really paying off.”

Wrestling fans will have a chance to see the Warriors in action during the Sierra Blanca Invitational, Jan. 6, at RMS.

Olive said the school affords the perfect atmosphere for the competition.

“With how crowded it was, it makes it more intimate and up close. I got no bad vibes from anybody,” Olive said. “The parents loved being that close and I got good feedback from it.”

This year’s tournament kicks off the second half of the season, when the Warriors hope to begin the march back to the State meet.

Olive expects a number of his wrestlers to get into the second day and compete for a medal.

“There are more guys this year that can make it deep into that bracket. They’re also all young guys,” Olive said. “Everyone on this team will really compete, not just fill the weight classes. I’m feeling really good about the season.”

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