Cleveland’s 189-pounder Micah Martinez won his match, leading 9-4 in the second period when his Atrisco Heritage Academy opponent was injured and declined to continue the match. The Storm won nine of the 13 matches contested Jan. 11 with visiting Atrisco Heritage Academy. (Photo by Joe Grimando)


The big city showdown on the mat next week is Wednesday evening in the RAC, when the host Rio Rancho Rams entertain the Cleveland High Storm.

Both teams have wrestled out of state and are heading beyond New Mexico’s borders again soon.

Cleveland has been in Reno for the annual Tournament of Champions and then in Winslow, Ariz., for the Doc Wright Invitational this weekend.

Rio Rancho has been to the Kansas City Stampede in December and to Geary, Okla., for an appearance there – and headed north for the Top of the Rockies tournament in Denver Jan. 20-21.

“We are coming to the end of the season, so I am hoping to have a strong finish,” RRHS head coach Mike Santos said.

Heading into their meeting, the Storm are 9-4 vs. the Rams. Each team had one state champ last season, and each returns: 107-Roman Luttrell for CHS, 114-Marcus Williams for the Rams.

The Storm improved to 12-0 after their Jan. 11 victory over District 1-5A foe Atrisco Heritage Academy, while the Rams (9-3) had two duals that evening, losing to Volcano Vista – champion of the Conflict at Cleveland – and a win over host Cibola. Their previous dual action had been at their annual Southwest Shootout, when the Rams won eight matches and lost to Chandler, Ariz., and El Paso’s Eastwood.

“One down; we’ll look forward to the next one,” CHS coach Evan Copeland said.

Meanwhile, “down the hill” at Cibola High that same night, Santos had “really an eye-opener for our young team. We have three seniors on the team. … Volcano has a really good team and beat us, 59 to 3. Our only wrestler who won was Josiah Neri, our 114 wrestler.”

The Rams beat Cibola, 53-24.

Storm vs. Atrisco Heritage Academy

(Jan. 11 in the Thunderdome; Storm wrestler listed first, followed by updated score)

245 pounds: Harris Mbueha pinned Gabriel Rios in 2:17. (6-0)

285: Andrew Rivera pinned Manny Martinez in 4:31. (12-0)

107: Roman Luttrell pinned Diego Cordova in 1:50 (18-0)

114: Josh Ortega pinned Damian Trujillo in2:30. (24-0)

121: Matthew Mascarenas pinned Chris Taylor in 2:58 (30-0)

127: Isaac Bachicha claimed a 7-5 decision over Anastacio Martinez. (33-0)

133: Matthew Dixon was pinned in 3:36. (33-6)

139: Xavier Lucero was pinned in 3:49 by Jayden Garcia. (33-12)

145: JP Montoya took a 19-3 tech fall over Isaiah Martinez. (38-12)

152: Joe Coon was pinned in 5:00 by Tatum Garcia. (38-18)

160: Ruger Stewart defeated Adrian Martinez, 6-0. (41-18)

172: William Wallace was pinned in 2:32 by Jonathan Casaus. (41-24)

187: Micah Martinez was awarded a fall via forfeit after Z. Lopez was injured in the second and decided not to return to action; Martinez had a 9-4 lead at the time. (47-24).

“Tough matches,” Copeland said, pointing to Coon’s loss; he was facing a top-notch wrestler who moved up a class. “That kid is usually their 145; that kid is pretty good.

“We want those tough matches, right? We’re grateful when we can get them, when someone bumps up … those tough matches are going to pay dividends later on,” he said. “From wrestling those tough matches, win or lose, are way more important.”

The Storm now 7-0 all-time vs. AHA.

Takedowns: Copeland is still getting used to 13 weight divisions, down from 14 in recent seasons. “The last couple years, everybody’s given up so many forfeits; the fans don’t like that. ‘So let’s take away a weight class, maybe that’ll fix it,’” he said. “Surrounding states around us all have 14,” he said, unhappy it will hurt participation. The varsity girls have a dozen weight classes.

… In the girls’ match Wednesday, which preceded the boys’ match, AHA defeated the Storm 36-18. The Storm had only five wrestlers, while the Jaguars had eight; there were just four individual matches contested, plus one exhibition match.

… Matthew Mascarenas is a cousin to the former trio of state champs bearing that surname: Paul, Mikey and Tristan, who combined to win 10 individual state titles on the mats. Tristan Mascarenas, competing as a redshirt sophomore at Arizona State, went 2-3 at the Keystone Classic and then 4-0 at the Journeymen Collegiate, with two pins, a major decision and a decision.

… In late December, competing in a duals tournament in Silver City, Cleveland won its 50th boys’ varsity tournament and won its 200th varsity dual.