by David Tesitor
COMMERCE CITY, WESTMINSTER– The John Mall Panthers wrestling team traveled north last weekend to compete against some of the big dogs of high school wrestling and walked away with some championship hardware.
On Friday night, the Cats warmed up against Adam City high school in dual action and won 30-27. In head-to-head action, the Panthers won four and lost three matches. Those taking a win included Stuart Pino (189), Lorenzo Trujillo (285), Jacob Pino (145), John Burch (130) and Jacob Tenorio (103).
Adams City competes at the 5A level and is usually a powerhouse at the state competition level. Adams City Coach Tom Deaguero and Coach Josh Vialpando′s father, Frank, were friends and teammates when they were in high school, and Tom′s son, Jared, is the assistant coach and is good friends with Coach Josh. The meet marked the first time in the history of both schools that they competed against one another and according to Coach Vialpando, "we both would like to see a friendly rivalry going."
The Panthers were primarily in Denver for the Westminster Invitational. The Panthers were the only 2A team that went eyeball to eyeball with teams from in and around the Denver area. The Denver teams usually compete at the 4-5A level. With only seven wrestlers competing, the Panthers proved it is neither the size of the school nor the size of the wrestler, but it’s the size of the heart that drives champions.
Berrie Archuleta (171) was such a champion. He wrestled his way through four matches to claim the best. Two other grapplers wrestled in the championship round, but fell short. T enorio (103) and Jacob Pino (145) took home a second-place finish while Stuart Pino took home third. Panther teammates John Paul Vigil (119), James Sierra (125) and Trujillo were one round away from wrestling for third place. Burch drew some tough opening round opponents, losing a couple of tight matches, which could have gone either way, according to Vialpando. The coach went on to say, "I am pleased with how the guys are wrestling. They are always improving and they continue to work hard."
The Panthers will be at the Santa Fe League Tournament today at Crowley County and at the Alamosa Invitational on Saturday.