by David Tesitor
TRINIDAD — John Paul Vigil and Jacob Pino each claimed a first-place finish at the Gene Gagliardi Invitational Wrestling in Trinidad last Saturday, ousting the competition and helping the John Mall Panthers finish 8th in a field of sixteen schools from Colorado and New Mexico. Many of the teams which finished in team points ahead of the Panthers fielded teams of 12 to 14 wrestlers. The Panthers took seven to Trinidad.
Vigil (126 pounds) holds a record of 20-6 and is currently ranked eighth in the state. After a successful past week, he should maintain his ranking as the teams head into the final weeks of the season before the regional tournament in Fowler in two weeks then the state tournament the following week at the Pepsi Center.
To get to the championship podium, Vigil first met Adrian Torres of Trinidad, defeating him with ease and earning a technical pin (15-0 score) and moving on to the semifinals. Then he met Joseph Paul Griego of Las Vegas, New Mexico. He took little time to defeat his opponent, taking him down quickly and forcing the pin in 1:15 seconds sending him to the finals. Then he met Jacob Yslas of Florence who holds an impressive 20-5 record and is ranked number eleven in the 3A division. It took overtime for Vigil to earn the victory with a take-down in the fourth period and the two points to give him the title.
Jacob Pino (160 pounds), who is ranked twelfth in the state, had a first round bye. He met Ron Atencio of Dolores Huerta and dominated the match from the first moments. He went on to win by technical fall 16-1, advancing to the semifinals. He then met Luis Gailindo of Taos and, just as he did in his previous match, dominated every aspect, earning a major victory, 20-7. The finals saw Pino square off against Lane Masar of Florence who is ranked number 11 in 3A. Pino fought a close match until the third period when after a quick takedown, he earned the quick pin.
Florence and Dolores Huerta finished first and second respectively in the tournament and Pino’s victories impacted the final results, attesting that wrestling at a specific weight class does not transcend school classification.
In other Panther action, heavyweight Lorenzo Trujillo (10-7 and number 9 in the state) won a quarterfinal victory over Brandon Ratcliff of Alamosa by pinfall at 1:17 seconds. He then lost his semi-final to Raymond Riggings of Trinidad by a 9-1 decision, forcing him into the consolation bracket and a chance for a third-place finish. He then lost his last match in a 5-3 decision to Nathan Hererra of Centauri eliminating him from a medal-place finish. He did however finish in the top six.
Other Panthers seeing action included Julius Langer, Adam Bobian, Jack Ortiz and Zane Barber (145 pounds). Langer went 0-2 while Barber won his first-round match against Brandon Madrid of Trinidad. He lost in the semifinals but won the next round with a victory over Hehr Haught of La Veta with a pin in 1:25. His match for a chance to finish in the medal round fell short with a loss against Jaymes Gonzales of Las Vegas by pin in 1:57. He had a top-six finish.