RIO RANCHO – All Ruidoso wrestling coach Andy Olive wanted out of his athletes at this year’s New Mexico National Guard State tournament was that they be wrestling in the Santa Ana Star Center on the second day.
Six Warriors made the trip north with Olive, five are wrestling on Saturday.
Not a bad showing so far, eh?
“I don’t want to get too emotional, I’ll probably get euphoric tomorrow, depending on what happens,” Olive said. “They met my expectations, and I’m confident we’ll do just fine.”
The only Ruidoso wrestler that didn’t make it to day 2 was Joseph Morales at 120, who fell to Estevan Atilano of Pecos by a 9-7 decision in the consolation quarterfinals.
That could have been turned around for a victory if Morales had been able to score a pin in the last 20 seconds of the match, but Atilano was just too slippery.
“Joe was in the hardest bracket in 4A,” Olive said. “That bracket has three State champions in it, so two of those champions are going to get their dreams shattered.
“Joe is one of our more natural wrestlers and he worked very hard,” he added. “He lost to that kid at Pecos and was basically mercy-ruled before, and this time there was a cradle he could have got with about 10 seconds left, and he just didn’t see it in time.”
Ethan Belin was the other Ruidoso wrestler in consolation rounds, finishing off Wingate’s Dominic Clyde with a 2-0 decision.
All the rest of the Ruidoso wrestlers are on the championship side of the bracket, having gone undefeated on Friday and still in the hunt for a State title.
That includes Sharon Minnix, who is on a quest to become the first female State wrestling champion in Ruidoso history, in the first-ever State girls wrestling tournament hosted by the NMAA.
Minnix is in the championship match against Yaracely Saenz of Bernalillo, with the title rounds starting at 1 p.m.
While Minnix was busy defeating Shyra Legarde of Cleveland in the semifinal, teammate Dyllan Morgan was busy taking down Bernalillo’s Ryan Maes at 106 with a fall in the second period.
That puts him up against Vincent Marin of Silver in the State semifinals starting at 9 a.m.
Connor Jameson won his 152-pound match against Anfrenee Becenti of Wingate with a fall right at the very end of the first period. He’ll be wrestling Silver’s Michael Aguirre when things kick off again on Saturday morning.
Finally, heavyweight Mikey Marin earned a spot in the semifinals with a pin of Wingate’s Matthew Thompson in the first round of their match.
Marin is up against a stacked division if he wants a chance at a State title, but at least he’s coming at it from the No. 2 seed.
His match against Thompson has been typical Marin style – a slow feeling-out process before moving in with a lightening-quick takedown and even quicker pin.
“We came in here with a different game plan at State, with some different moves to try out,” Marin said. “They should come in handy for this tournament, hopefully.”
With so many wrestlers to watch on the second day, Olive’s wish is to just keep his team on task.
“It feels great to see how much the program has grown in the past five years,” Olive said. “I’m more eager to get this going tomorrow. We’ll go back to the hotel, feed them and check weight, and hopefully we won’t have to run them too much.”