The evening before, he won his second state wrestling championship, with his eyes set on being a five-time champ – something in Rio Rancho only Max Ortega has been able to accomplish.
But give this exuberant Storm kid time – he’s got the talent, he just needs to keep winning at state in 2024, ’25 and ’26.
Don’t bet against him.
Unfortunately, for the second year in a row, neither Rio Rancho high school brought home a trophy from the state wrestling meet.
Each school had a repeat champion, and Cleveland gained its first female state champ in school history. (See story, this page.)
Volcano Vista, which the Storm defeated earlier in the month for the District 1-5A championship, won the team title with 187 points. Rounding out the top 10 teams were La Cueva (177.5), Atrisco Heritage Academy (153), Los Lunas (152), Cleveland (148), Farmington (team champ in 2021 and ’22, 143), Rio Rancho (129), Piedra Vista (82.5), Hobbs (80), and Las Cruces (57). Twenty-six teams had competitors throughout the 13 weight divisions.
Of course, tournaments are a lot different than dual matches, CHS coach Evan Copeland was quick to point out – and who knows what would have happened if the Storm’s second-seeded 215-pounder, junior Harris Mbueha (31-5), had met anyone other than Albuquerque High’s Malik Felder in a first-round match Friday. Mbueha not only lost that meeting, 7-5, but was beaten again by Felder in the consolation round, with Mbueha settling for a fifth-place finish after defeating Rio Rancho’s Christopher Garcia (26-17), 11-1.
“It’s wrestling; anything can happen in those six minutes,” Copeland said. “Young kids. There’s a lot going on in their minds.”
Cleveland’s 107-pound Lutrell (42-3) got the championship round started with a pin of Farmington’s Brayden Harvey in 3:37. Luttrell, a state champ at 106 in 2022, led the entire match, with Harvey’s only point coming on a planned escape.
“He didn’t want to wrestle me; I knew it,” Luttrell said, having beaten Harvey one week earlier in the regional championship. “None of these people want to wrestle me.”
After winning another title, Luttrell wowed the crowd with a 360-degree back flip.
So, Luttrell was asked, how could someone beat him on the mat?
“You wake up every morning at 3 a.m. Get outside, run. Go practice in the morning. Run. Wrestle. Get another practice,” he advised. “At the end of the day, it’s not what you do. If I wrestle how I wrestle like that, every time, there’s no one in the world that can beat me – nobody in the world can beat me when I’m doing what I’m doing.”
He’s now looking forward to two big nationals tournaments, in Virginia Beach, Va., and Fargo, N.D.
Two matches later, Rio Rancho junior Marcus Williams (36-3), like Luttrell the No. 1 seed, became a three-time state champ, this time winning at 121 pounds. He easily defeated Rio Grande’s Sergio Gutierrez, the 2 seed, 8-3.
Not to be outdone, and apparently having watched Luttrell, Williams also executed a nifty back flip.
“I envision it in my mind,” Williams said after his third title. “If you work hard, good things happen.”
Also in the championship round Saturday, a Ram and a Storm matman finished second.
- At 127 pounds, RRHS senior Kaleb Medina (15-8) lost a 5-1 decision to Volcano Vista’s unbeaten Noah Jones.
- At 152 pounds, CHS junior Joe Coon (38-12) also faced an unbeaten wrestler, La Cueva’s Mario Tafoya.
Through three periods, the two were even, with Coon executing an escape, worth one point, with less than 40 seconds left in the third period to even the score at 3.
But in the overtime period, Tafoya (37-0) pinned Coon in 56 seconds It was the third time this season Coon lost to Tafoya.
“He got closer every time,” Copeland said of the losses. “I know Joe Coon; I know he’s going to be back to work very soon.”
En route to the quarterfinal round, Coon notched his 100th match victory.
In addition to the City of Vision matmen mentioned above, also appearing on the podium, thanks to their top-six finishes, by weight class, were:
- 114: Josh Ortega (34-12), CHS junior, fifth.
- 145: JP Montoya (36-8), CHS junior, fourth.
- 172: Benjamin Valencia (28-11), CHS junior, sixth.