That's Santa Fe High sophomore Sammy Martinez on the top step of the podium displaying his state 6A wrestling championship award won this past weekend. Sammy with gold medal draped around his neck and with his state championship award, the first in 6A for the Demons.
State wrestling championship for Demon sophomore Sammy Martinez, Jaguar Jose Tapia wins unprecedented fifth title, Horseman senior Julian Brittain his first
Demons finish their best in 6A, as do Jaguars in 5A behind two other state champions
By ARNIE LESHIN
Don't tell Sammy Martinez that you can't win a state wrestling championship after finishing second at districts.
For the Santa Fe High sophomore, it was simply a different day, a different time, and a different event when he celebrated winning his school's first 6A title in the sport at the weekend championships grappled at Rio Rancho's Santa Ana Star Center.
He had an impressive freshman campaign, taking 1st at districts and 4th at states in the 113 weight. His record was 35-12.
This time, he finished another stellar season at 41-8. At districts held at Albuquerque Manzano, he lost via a 9-8 decision in the 132 finals to Isaac Garcia of the host Monarchs.
At state, he bounced to back to claim the title in the same weight by turning back Rio Rancho High sophomore James Emmel, who concluded at 21-8.
Martinez was the lone Demon to win it all, but another Martinez, junior Isaiah, made it into the 152 final before losing to Rio Rancho High senior Ryan Rockford, who turned in a 38-5 record and won district.
But while Sammy was runner-up at districts, Isaiah's best was third place and he completed his season at 42-7.
Demons' freshman Isaac Beltran, the only one all season to defeat 113-pound champion Mark Gonzales via a 6-4 decision in the district final, settled for third place this time, but he did not face top-seeded Gonzales after getting an opening-round bye. Gonzales won 32 of 33.
Fourth place for the second straight time went to senior Ivan Marquez (126) along with senior Mario Mendiola (145). The latter wound up at 23-9 and Marquez at 33-3. A fifth place went to sophomore Adam Pena (120) and he compiled a 24-8 mark.
Competing in a field of 22 schools, the Demons made a statement by finishing seventh with 119 points, their best while in 6A. Last season, they took 12th with 57 points.
Kudos to head coach Stephen Burns for putting the program in contention with the big schools. The last time the school had state champs was with the George brothers while in 4A.
As for Capital High in 5A, it was a best-ever second place following up last year's third. It scored 172.5 points behind Belen, which totaled 211, and had five state champions. Third with 148.5 was Aztec. Last season, Capital placed third with 197.
Individually, the biggest news in 5A was Jaguars' senior Jose Tapia joining the exclusive 5-championship club. He capped his high school career winning handily over St. Pius X freshman Diego Pavia on a fall in 2:47.
His record for this season was 37-2. Over the last three years, he went 144-0. His four-year totals were 170-4, with the defeats occurring on forfeits due to not making the weights. Young Pavia went 29-4.
Then there was junior Ryan Romero, who won state at 106 last year, with the district winner doing the same this time at 113 pounds by coming up with a 10-8 decision over Aztec junior Joshia Griego, who ended his season at 40-5.
And freshman Jasper Mares, the district champion at 120, ended a 39-7 campaign by taking a 10-4 decision over Valencia senior Devon Martinez, who went out with a 30-12 record.
Capital also had runner-up finishes from freshman Jonathan Romero at 106, and from senior Alex Wisdom at 132. Romero, who took second at districts, concluded at 31-8. Wisdom at 38-3.
No thirds, but the Jaguars did get fourths from sophomore Jacob Jiron at 160, who finished up at 34-13, and senior Manuel Carrillo at 220 to complete the campaign at 29-14. Last year, he was second at state in the 195 weight.
There was also sixth places from junior Lucas McNatt at 182 and freshman Abel Barraza at 152. The latter was 23-23 and McNatt 19-16.
Capital did have four state champions last year, but one of them was now Pojoaque Valley sophomore Javier Tapia, Jose's brother who transferred to be with his dad, Johnny, the head coach of the first-year Elks.
The only undefeated wrestler in 4A, Javier made it 37 in a row with a fall over Silver junior Jayden Wietholter in 4:58 of the 152-pound weight. Wietholter wound up at 25-10. Or course Javier became his new school's first state champion on the mats.
In 1-4A, St. Michael's had its only state champion in senior Julian Brittain. Third at state last year at the 182 weight, he was ready to take two more steps in winning at 220 over Tucumcari senior Antonio Norton via a dominating 10-1 decision to wind up at 26-2 and drop Norton to 23-11.
Also the district champion, Brittain went 30-9 last season, this time he made it into the championship final after rolling through the preliminaries.
His sophomore year, a late-season injury ruined his chance to compete at state. Now he delivered a year after unbeaten teammate Xavier Vigil won state and a football injury this senior season also spoiled his finale after winning two states and taking second twice.
Horsemen juniors Dominic Smith (36-9) and Sam Baca (23-10) came away with third places, Smith, at 138, and Baca, at 145. Smith had placed second at districts, Baca third. Brittain was the only one to win districts.
It was a disappointment stretch run for St. Michael's senior Shaun LeVe at the 285 weight. After placing third at state last year at this same weight, he wound up fourth at district, did not place at state, and finished at 15-14.
In the team scoring, the Horsemen placed sixth with 65 points, very close to last season's 76 points and seventh place. The top spot went to Silver with 222 points and four state champs. Second with 189.5 was Cobre, which had no winners and relied on its depth.
Last year, four state champions from Capital and one from St. Michael's. This time, again five champions, except now up-and-coming Santa Fe High made the scene.