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About 1,100 wrestlers compete in Conflict at Cleveland; here's who came out on top

Jan. 6—RIO RANCHO — New Mexico's best wrestlers will be back under the roof of the Rio Rancho Events Center next month for the state tournament.

This weekend, they gathered for the most demanding tournament of their season, including state.

A handful of metro-area wrestlers captured individual titles, and the host school was the team champion of the Conflict at Cleveland, an event that brought together over 50 teams from four states and concluded Saturday.

"It's huge," said La Cueva junior Mason Posa, the 215-pound champion. "The past two years, I've never won it, so this was a pretty big moment for me. Here in New Mexico, we have tons of competition, but this tournament is hard. One of the hard ones."

La Cueva had a pair of champions, the other being heavyweight Mark Handy, a junior, who outlasted Cleveland's Robert Sabado 3-1 in the final. Ironically, Cleveland had both its heavyweight entrants reach the semifinals, with Sabado downing teammate Gabriel Marquez 4-3 in overtime.

For both Handy — who is a towering, and imposing, 6-foot-6 and 290 pounds — and Posa, it was their first major tournament of the season coming off their state football championship in late November for the Bears. Both had four pins this weekend prior to winning by decision in the final.

"It's super important," Handy said. "You know, there are more teams here than there are at state, and this shows everyone that you're good and not to be messed with."

Posa had been dinged up since the end of football, so his father, Javier, who is the Bears wrestling coach, told him to get some rest in December. Mason said he had been gearing everything for the Conflict at Cleveland to open his tournament season in style.

Cleveland sophomore Roman Luttrell (22-1) was the champion at 114 pounds as a No. 1 seed. Posa was also a No. 1 seed. So was Atrisco Heritage junior Tatum Garcia, who improved to 19-0 with his triumph in the 160-pound division.

"I had to push through some hard matches," Garcia said. That included a triple-overtime victory in the semifinal round on a day when he said he was under the weather. "So I just really had to dig down deep. ... I had to push through it."

Cibola freshman Diego Torrez (10-0) was the champion at 121 points, and Volcano Vista's Jonathon Romero (19-0) took first in the 127-pound bracket.

West Las Vegas eighth-grader Andres Lopez (107) and Hobbs senior Cameron Hernandez (172) were the other New Mexicans who won titles on Saturday.

Four of the 13 brackets featured two New Mexico wrestlers in the final.

The Storm scored 256 points to capture first place. Volcano Vista, last year's Class 5A state champion, was the runner-up, having scored 217 points. Pueblo East was third, with La Cueva fourth.

GIRLS: Eaglecrest (Colorado) High was the team champion, scoring 144 1/2 points. New Mexico occupied places 2-5, with West Mesa (131), Atrisco Heritage (127), Cleveland and Volcano Vista.

Three girls from the metro area, led by 21-0 Jaden Meadows of Sandia, who spent only 4 minutes and 20 seconds on the mat in five pins in the 152-pound bracket, were individual champions. Kayla Jose of West Mesa had five pins in winning at 126 pounds, and Heaven Guevara of Cleveland was the champion at 132.

There were a few girls from outside the metro who also claimed first place: Alyssa Sedillo of Las Cruces at 100, Lorianna Piestewa of Miyamura at 114, Sasha Gonzalez of Socorro at 120, Laura Almanza of Deming at 138, Jade Blackheart of Los Alamos at 145, Bethany Sanchez of Organ Mountain at 185, and heavyweight Emily Madrid-Kane of Goddard.

About 1,100 boys and girls competed at the Conflict at Cleveland.