The Taos Tigers wrestling team competed with the Moriarty Pintos, the Pojoaque Elks, the Española Sundevils and the Los Alamos Hilltoppers for the top spot in …
The Taos Tigers wrestling team competed with the Moriarty Pintos, the Pojoaque Elks, the Española Sundevils and the Los Alamos Hilltoppers for the top spot in District 2/4A on Saturday (Feb. 9) at Pojoaque High School.
Dual meets are structured somewhat like basketball tournaments in that the contests are between two teams at a time. Each wrestler on the team challenges the opponent in his or her weight class on the opposing team. Matches are decided either by fall, when one wrestler pins the shoulder blades of the other to the mat for at least two seconds and thus wins the match, or by match points.
Suppose you wish to win a wrestling match. You get two points if, starting from a neutral position, you are able to gain control of your opponent. This is called a takedown. You can win two or three points for nearly pinning your opponent for two or five seconds, respectively. Nearly pinning has a technical definition: keeping your opponent's shoulder blades within four inches of the mat for two seconds, or one shoulder blade touching the mat and the other shoulder blade less than 45 degrees from the mat for two seconds, or you hold your opponent in a "high bridge" (hips up, feet and neck, head or elbows on the mat) or back on two elbows.
Whew! You can also earn points by getting yourself out of trouble. Escaping the control of your opponent is worth one point and turning the tables and gaining control of an opponent who had control of you is worth two points (and called a reversal).
Aside from penalty points, which we won't go into, these are the ways to win match points. You get three rounds of two minutes to either earn points or pin your opponent.
A wrestler who wins by fall, forfeit or disqualification is awarded 6 points for the team. If you get 15 points ahead before the six minutes are over, you win by technical fall and get five points for the team. If, at the end of the six minutes, you're ahead by 8-14 points, you win by major decision and your team gets four points. If you're ahead by fewer than eight points, your team gets three points. Now you know where the points we're about to discuss come from.
Taos first wrestled Moriarty in a quiet gymnasium, winning 70-12. In their contest with Española, the Tigers won 54-27. Though there were many fans and family members, the overall tone of the meet was quiet, with at most two concurrent contests on the two mats, one for Española and Taos, the other for two other teams.
Next the Tigers took on Pojoaque and beat them 78-6. That left only Los Alamos, who also beat all three other teams, for the final.
It wasn't a quiet gymnasium any more. Athletes and coaches on both sides shouted, jumped and crawled on the mats trying to communicate with their wrestlers while parents, fans and the Taos cheerleaders shouted encouragement. All but one of the contests ended in a pin. The 182 pound division wrestler from Los Alamos, Mateo Martinez, was bleeding from the nose, and every time Estevan Valerio had him almost down, blood was spotted on the mat or a wrestler and the official was forced to pause the match so it could be cleaned up. Each time Martinez got a new five-minute timeout to try to stop the bleeding. Valerio won by major decision.
After 14 intense contests, one for each weight class, the score was Los Alamos 42, Taos 40.
Saturday (Feb. 16) the Taos boys wrestle in the district tournament, the individual contest, to be hosted by Los Alamos. The top three wrestlers in the five-school district for each weight class will qualify for state, with two wild cards between all 26 Class 4A teams.
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