Rio Rancho’s heavyweight Riley Butt celebrates his second-period pin of Cleveland’s John Taylor. Gary Herron photo.

If you can’t bring people inside to watch high school wrestling, then take the wrestling outside and let the people watch the mano y mano combat.
And that’s what Cleveland and Rio Rancho high schools did Wednesday evening at Rio Rancho Stadium, where the Rams took down the Storm, 32-23.
A few hundred fans, admitted for free but observing mask-wearing and distancing, showed up on the breezy evening to see a “first” take place in the City of Vision: their city’s teams battling outdoors.
“I think the weather came out good for us, but I think this is special and I think this is one thing the kids will probably remember for a long time,” RRHS coach Mike Santos said. “At least I will; I’ve never done anything like this before.”
It was just the second time in the past 10 years the Rams had beaten their younger brothers; Cleveland still leads the series handily, with an 8-4 advantage over the Rams in their dozen mat meetings.
In order of the matches, with the Storm matmen listed first, and the running score:
• 182: A takedown and near-fall in the third period broke open what had been a 2-2 deadlock after two periods, and Joshua Perry defeated Gage Victor, 6-2. Storm 3, Rams 0
• 195: Kymani Castillo used a couple of near-falls for a 6-0 lead late in the second period, then made his match with Darrius Gregory even more one-sided in Castillo’s 12-1 major decision. Storm 7, Rams 0
• 220: Tiger Muñoz battled Gage Dain to a 3-3 tie through three periods. Dain’s overtime takedown was the decisive point in his 4-3 victory. Storm 7, Rams 3
• 285: John Taylor was victim of a first-period takedown by Riley Butt, and Butt needed just 37 seconds of the second period to win by fall. Rams 9, Storm 7
• 106: Damian Lucero had four takedowns in his 8-0 verdict over Chris Smith. Storm 11, Rams 9
• 113: Kyle Davy was no match for freshman Marcus Williams, who used two near-falls in the first two periods for a commanding 8-0 lead after the first period, then pinned Davy 1:08 into the second period to give the Rams the match lead to keep. Rams 15, Storm 11
• 120: Maybe the evening’s best battle, Matthew Dixon and Roberto Cordova, using a third-period reverse to tie the match at 5, had Dixon on the proverbial ropes and took him down as the scoreboard siren went off. Referee Jeff Salazar determined the takedown gave Cordova a 7-5 victory, then faced Storm coach Evan Copeland — with Santos listening in nearby — as he explained what he’d seen. Copeland wasn’t happy, working hard for his boys, he’d say later, and, fortunately, the three points awarded Cordova didn’t factor into the Rams’ victory. Rams 18, Storm 11
• 126: Isaac Bachicha trailed Andres Jiron, 3-2, heading into the third period, which began with Bachicha in the “up” position. Jiron executed an escape for a 4-2 lead and that’s how it ended. Rams 21, Storm 11
• 132: After a scoreless first period between Tyler Gabaldon and Luke Sikes, Gabaldon held a narrow 2-1 lead after the second period, and the match was knotted at 2 after the third period. It took three overtime periods before Gabaldon’s second-OT escape proved to be the winner, as Sikes couldn’t manage an escape in the 30-second third OT stanza. Rams 21, Storm 14
• 138: Joe Coon and Ventura Velasquez were evenly matched, their match tied at 2 until Velasquez fashioned a takedown with about 12 seconds left in regulation for a 4-2 decision. Rams 24, Storm 14
• 145: Julian Rojas was no match for Jasper Pennington, racking up multiple takedowns and near-falls on his way to an easy 11-2 major decision. Rams 28, Storm 14
• 152: Damien Bachicha was easy prey for Gabriel Keith, who placed fourth at state last season and tossed Bachicha around en route to a 15-0 technical fall. Rams 32, Storm 14
• 160: Xavier Romero-Trujillo took a 6-0 lead at the end of the first period on the strength of a near-fall, then got the real thing — a pin of Elijah Pineau in 2:22. Rams 32, Storm 20
• 170: Josh Coon ended the city showdown the way it began, with a Cleveland victory. He led Chris Montoya 3-0 at the end of the first period, 3-2 after two periods and used his expertise for a couple of near-falls, sandwiched around an escape, for a 9-5 decision. Rams 32, Storm 23
“I think our veteran guys, they went in there, did their job the way we expected them to do,” said Santos.
“Our younger guys: I was kind of happy with their development and where they’re at; I know this is a short season, but we’re hoping to see a difference at (the district tournament),” he continued.
“This is a very special team: We’ve got the depth, we’ve got the experience, and those young guys have really come along, so we’re real happy.”

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