Ruidoso’s wrestling team doesn’t have a huge contingent making the trek to Rio Rancho’s Santa Ana Star Center this weekend for the Class 4A/1A State tournament, but that’s to be expected when you haven’t been able to put a full team at each weight class on the mat all season long.
But coach Andy Olive said the expects the wrestlers he is bringing to have a fantastic weekend.
“I think everyone has a chance to get to day two, and I think we have quite a few people that have a good chance of medaling.”
Of the six, there’s Sharon Minnix, who will wrestle in the 143-pound division of the girls bracket, the first time the NMAA has tried such a thing.
She takes on Aylin Mijares of Bernalillo in the first round on Friday.
“My expectations are for her to make it to the finals and come back with a medal,” said Olive matter-of-factly.
Probably the Warriors with the best chance of a medal – of a State title, even – is heavyweight Mikey Marin, who is seeded second and will face the winner between Kyle Begay of Shiprock and Wingate’s Matthew Thompson in the second round.
The problem is, the heavyweight division in Class 4A is loaded.
“He’s on the opposite end of the No. 1 seed (Isaiah Valverde of Tucumcari), but the guy he lost to in the championship last year wasn’t even seeded. He finished fourth in his district.”
That defending State champion that found it so difficult to get out of his own district is Babatund Okundaye of Robertson, who bested Marin with a 5-1 decision last year.
“It’s stacked, but Mikey’s not concerned,” Olive said. “He’s working hard and will go from one match to the next.”
Ethan Belin has had a whale of a season so far, having beaten everyone in his weight class in the district, and is coming into State on a roll. He’ll take on Silver’s Isaiah Sanchez – a man he’s already felled – in the first round.
“He’s had a really good month after starting off in a slump at the beginning of the season,” Olive said. “I expect him to continue with that momentum, to wrestle his tail off.”
Also heading to Rio Rancho is Dyllan Morgan at 106, Joseph Morales at 120 and Connor Jameson at 152.
“Right now, it’s a mental game with everybody,” Olive said. “As long as everyone’s head is right, I think they’ll do just fine.”