Cleveland freshman Roman Luttrell, facing the camera, thrives on pressure and, wrestling in the final match Wednesday evening, earned a technical fall over his opponent, leading to the Storm’s win over visiting Volcano Vista. (Herron photo)
Coincidentally saving their best for last, Cleveland High did to Volcano Vista’s wrestling team what the Storm basketball team had done in the Thunderdome four days earlier: Spot the visiting Hawks the lead, then rally back for a key victory.
In that basketball matchup, the Hawks had a 22-point lead early in the second half before falling. In the wrestling showdown of Jan. 25, the Hawks won five of the first matches and never trailed until the final match ended.
“They’re really good, up and down that lineup,” CHS coach Evan Copeland said of the Hawks, who won the Conflict at Cleveland and the Joe Vivian tournament titles this season. “It’s good to have Roman last. He’s a good wrestler.”
Roman Luttrell, 35-4 in 2021-22 and the Storm’s lone state champ last season, happened to be featured in that final match of Senior Night on Jan. 25.
For those who recognize that surname, you’ll know where this is going.
In the past, the lowest weight class began dual matches, but in recent years, there have been drawings to determine at which weight class the match begins. And last Wednesday, it was 114 pounds, meaning Luttrell would be on the mat last – and not least — that night.
Then, with the Hawks having won seven of the first dozen matches and his team trailing, 33-30, Luttrell pulled off an easy – for him, anyway – 18-2 technical fall, worth five points and giving the Storm not only a 35-33 match victory but also the District 1-5A championship, their eighth overall and fourth under Copeland.
“I love being the last match – I thrive on pressure,” Luttrell said. “I’m glad I could get that last ‘dub.’
“You know, when my team counts on me, I do what it takes to get the W,” Luttrell said. “At the end of the day, I’m not worried about what everyone else is going; I’m focused on me, because eventually, a state championship is not the goal, because I’m going to go to the nationals this year, and I’m looking to win it this year, and not just place.” (He was sixth last year at the Greco-Roman Nationals.)
The major difference for Luttrell from last season, is he’s now on the CHS campus. When he won the state’s 106-pound title last February, he was an eighth-grade student at Mountain View Middle School.
“I’ve just kinda embraced the culture, you know what I mean? All of it. Cleveland is the best school in the state to be at, and that’s why I came here to pursue my goals.”
He’s been wrestling since he was 4. “I’m 15 now,” he said.
His father, Chris, was a state champ for Manzano. Older brother Jack wrestled five seasons for the Storm (2013-18), going 135-48 and placing fourth at state as a sophomore, before back-to-back third-place finishes in his final two seasons.
Roman’s twin brother lost interest in the sport a few seasons agon, but Roman says he’s getting back into it.
“He’s two minutes younger than me. … He’s big, a 140-pounder – it’s kinda hard to believe we’re twins.”
Here’s the order of the matches contested, with Storm matmen listed first, with the score updated in parentheses:
114: Josh Ortega lost an 18-5 major decision to Anthony Lopez. (0-4)
121: Elias Gurule was pinned at the end of the first period by Jonathan Romero. (0-10)
127: Isaac Bachicha lost a 10-5 decision to Noah Jones. (0-13)
133: Matthew Dixon registered the Storm’s first win of the evening, pinning Xzavier Salazar in the second period. (6-13)
139: Xavier Lucero was pinned in the second period by Lorenzo Gallegos. (6-19)
145: JP Montoya lost an 18-2 technical fall to Jordan Garcia. (6-24)
152: Joe Coon pinned Dylan Chapin in the second period. (12-24)
160: Ruger Stewart was outlasted, 9-7, in a decision by Conner Cole. (12-27)
172: Ben Valencia pinned Elijah Gawronski midway through the second period. (18-27)
189: Micah Martinez was pinned early in the second period by Martin Gomez. (18-33)
215: Harris Mbueha had a quick first-round pin of Isaiah Sanchez. (24-33)
285: Andrew Rivera pinned Aidan Duran in the first period, keeping Storm hopes alive. (30-33)
107: Roman Luttrell toyed with Gabriel Serros, with several takedowns and near-falls, with referee Eric Romero ending it with Luttrell ahead, 16-0, in the second period for a technical fall and the points to give the Storm the title. (35-33)
Before the Hawks-Storm showdown, Cleveland posted a near-perfect score in its win over the Cougars, 75-0. (78-0 would have been a perfect score.)