Wildcats host St. Johns for dual Tuesday, in Silver Triangular on Wednesday, at Winslow Invitational on Friday and Saturday

Photo By Raymundo Frasquillo: Freshman Marcus Morales has the advantage over a Benson opponent earlier in the season at 106 pounds. Morales was one of nine Wildcats placing in the top five at the Show Low Invitational.


By Raymundo Frasquillo

The Casey Woodall-coached Morenci wrestlers returned from the Land of Enchantment’s two-day 1st Conflict at Cleveland Meet with a ninth place finish and four individual placers Jan. 6. It was another step in the season-long preparation for the Feb. 3 state-qualifying sectional meet.

Morenci will host the St. Johns Redskins for a dual Tuesday, Jan. 9, head back to New Mexico for the Silver Triangular meet Wednesday, Jan. 10, and end the week in the Winslow-held two-day Doc Wright Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 13.

Two regular season multi meets remain for the Wildcats, in Thatcher Jan. 16 and in Globe Jan. 24.

Since the Wildcats (17-9) outscored four opponents by an average of 66-10 (263-39 points per dual) and posted a collective 25-4 (17 pins) overall record in head-to-head bouts in their season-opening multi-meet Nov. 29, they spent December competing near and far throughout the state.

Morenci has been honing individual skills, not only in its Padilla’s Pit practice facility, but also in meets at Mesa, Pima, Show Low, and Safford during last month.

Woodall has told the Wildcats since his arrival, he’s not concerned with individual records, rather, working hard and improvement with each match or session is expected. He has been pleased with the attitude, effort, work ethic, and improvement displayed by the Wildcats despite being unable to field a full team.

“Some are getting into situations they haven’t been able to get out of,” he said. That is exactly what the Wildcats work on in practice sessions, to counter and get out of next time the situation comes up.

Conflict in Cleveland (Jan. 5-6)

Morenci joined ten New Mexico, five Texas, and two Colorado teams competing in a double-elimination format of 32-man brackets. The Wildcats had 12 entrants, minus 152 and 220, but got two others experience.

Senior Jacob Vierra (182, 3-1) placed second, junior Ruben Casillas (126, 5-2, 1 pin) fourth, and both sophomore Calvin Dunning (113, 4-2) and senior Nicolas Carrasco (138, 4-2, 2 pins) fifth.

Vierra pinned Texas-El Paso Coronado senior Chris Barnes in the second period during the first round, decisioned Colorado Alamosa sophomore Austin Trujillo 9-2 in the quarterfinals, posted a 10-0 major decision over New Mexico La Cueva senior Derek Loidolt in the semifinal, and was decisioned 4-5 by Cleveland sophomore Gabe Garcia in the title bout.

Casillas decisioned Coronado senior Tony Ramirez 6-5 in the first round, notched a 15-0 technical fall over New Mexico Rio Rancho junior Jacob Vance in the second round, was pinned by El Paso Franklin sophomore Adrian Rodriguez in the second period during the third round, posted a 12-0 major decision over Vance in the consolation fourth round, decisioned Cleveland junior Santiago Marquez 6-4 in the consolation quarterfinals, advanced via a consolation semifinal injury to Cleveland senior Gabriel Roybal, and succumbed in a 0-12 major decision to Rodriguez during the third-place bout.

Photo By Raymundo Frasquillo: Fifth-year Morenci head coach Casey Woodall and 2017 graduate Christian White react to an unexpected turn of events during a home match.

Dunning had a 16-6 first round major decision over El Paso Del Valle freshman Jesus Fierro, was pinned by Cleveland sophomore Tristan Mascarena in the second period during the second round, pinned El Paso Pebble Hills freshman Justin Rodriguez in the consolation second round third period, decisioned La Cueva sophomore Jacob Carbajal 12-5 in the consolation quarterfinal, was decisioned 3-5 by Franklin sophomore Emilio Acosta in the consolation semifinal, and got a 14-1 major decision over New Mexico Miyamura freshman Sean Matthew Garcia for fifth place.

Carrasco pinned El Paso Eastwood sophomore Kaleb Ibarra in the first round first period, decisioned Alamosa sophomore Hunter Smith 5-3, pinned Rio Rancho freshman Jasper Pennington in the quarterfinal first period, was pinned by Franklin junior Adrian Zubia in the semifinal first period, was decisioned 0-1 by Eastwood senior David Denney in the consolation semifinal, and placed fifth via an injury default by Coronado senior Brian Najera.

Freshman Joseph Hernandez (195, 2-2, 1 pin) also competed on the second day but did not place.

Senior Cory Cota (2-2), junior Mark Roybal (145, 2-2, 2 pins), freshman Conrad Aguallo (120, 1-2), junior Omar Ortega (285, 1-2), freshman Marcus Morales (106, 0-2), sophomore Carlos Bray (132, 0-2), sophomore Michael Wirkus (170, 0-2), and junior Beau Wagner (195, 0-2) were ousted on the first day.

The Wildcats went from 11th with 55 points at the end of the first day to ninth (89.5) at the conclusion of the meet. Vierra contributed 21 team points, Casillas 18.5, Carrasco 17, Dunning 13, Mark Roybal 8, Cota 7, Steven Roybal 3, and Ortega 2.

“Great tournament, well run and outstanding competition,” Woodall said. “We all come home with some things to work on.”

“We were wrestling some extremely tough competition,” he said. “Alamosa will be state champions in Colorado; Cleveland is (the) defending 6A New Mexico state champions, Franklin is ranked in the (Texas) top five. The goal is to get better. I feel a big part of that is getting out of our comfort zone and trying to compete against the best. We saw some different styles and very good competition. Hopefully, it is a good learning experience. I think it helps our kids be a little more tested/prepared for (the) state tournament.”

Alamosa won the meet with 271 points and 14 placers, two champions, four runners-up, three in third, two in fourth, two in fifth, and one in sixth place; Franklin was second (242) with 11 placers (3 champions, a runner-up, 3 in 3rd, 3 in 4th, a 6th); and Cleveland was third (225) with 11 placers (2 champions, 3 runners-up, 2 in 3rd, 4 in 6th).

New Mexico Santa Fe was fourth (171.5) with six placers (3 champions, a runner-up, a 4th, a 5th), Eastwood fifth (150.5) with six placers (3 champions, a 3rd, 2 in 5th), La Cueva sixth (117) with seven placers (3 in 4th, 2 in 5th, 2 in 6th), Coronado seventh (98.5) with four placers (a runner-up, a 3rd, a 4th, 2 in 6th), Del Valle eighth (91.5) with three placers (a runner-up, a 3rd, a 5th), and Farmington 10th with four placers (a 3rd, a 4th, a 5th, a 6th).

Pebble Hills was 11th (79) with three placers (a runner-up, 2 in 4th), Colorado Walsenberg John Mall 12th (67.5) with two placers (a runner-up, a 6th), New Mexico Sandia 13th (56) with three placers (a 3rd, 2 in 5th), New Mexico Roswell 14th (49) with two placers (a champion, a 3rd), Miyamura 15th (43) with two placers (2 in 5th), Rio Rancho 16th (39), New Mexico Grants 17th (28) with one placer (a 6th), and Cleveland junior varsity 18th (24).

A total of 241 entrants competed for the top finish with both the 120 and 126 classes having the most (23) and both the 170 and 220 classes the fewest (9). There were 22 at 132, 21 at 138, 20 at both 106 and 145, 16 at 113, 152, 160, 195, and 285, and 14 at 182.

Safford Dual (Dec. 28)

Morenci outscored Safford 28-24 by winning 7-of-11 head-to-head bouts. However, three forfeits gave the host Bulldogs 18 additional points and a 42-28 dual win.

The individual wins were by a third period pin, two technical falls (15 or more points), two major decisions (6-14 points), and two decisions. The losses were two by first-period pin, one by second-period pin, and one by third-period pin. The forfeits were in the 152, 160, and 182 weight classes.

Individually, Morales (106) notched a 10-2 major decision over Thomas Kinnebrew, sophomore Dunning (113) scored a 16-1 technical fall over Mario Hernandez, Aguallo (120) had a 16-1 technical fall over Ethan Post, Casillas (132) decisioned Jonathan Astorga 4-2, Carrasco (138) decisioned McKade Finch 6-4, Mark Roybal (145) pinned Tyler Ledford in the third period, and Vierra posted an 11-2 major decision over Austin Vidales.

Cota (120) was pinned by Lazaro Lombillo in the second period, Steven Roybal (170) was pinned by Robert White in the first period, junior Nathan Willey (220) was pinned by Chase Umphries in the first period, and Ortega (285) was pinned by Chris Lujan in the third period.

Show Low Invitational (Dec. 8-9)

Nine of 11 Wildcats placed in the top five and two were named outstanding wrestlers following the conclusion of the 2-day meet in Show Low Dec. 9. Additionally, the team went unbeaten in seven pool pairings but lost the dual to determine the top team.

Morenci downed Payson 51-18, Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor 39-30, Lakeside Blue Ridge 51-30, Holbrook 57-12, Saint Johns by most pins (6-1) following a 38-38 tie, Eloy Santa Cruz Valley Union 52-24, and the X-team 57-12 in Gold Pool pairings. The loss was 35-39 to host Show Low for the team championship.

Show Low rolled over Chinle 61-15, Pinon 78-0, Eagar Round Valley 54-15, Winslow 72-12, Snowflake 51-26, Peoria Sunrise Mountain 54-22, and Thatcher 72-12 in Green Pool pairings.

Photo By Raymundo Frasquillo: Morenci senior Cody Cota (120) posted a 10-0 record, [laced first and was selected lower weights outstanding wrestler at the Show Low Invitational. An injury during the Conflict in Cleveland meet prompted an early exit.

The Wildcats tallied a 57-24 (39 pins) overall record in head-to-head bouts, with 21 first period pins, 10-second period pins, three third period pins, five technical falls, five major decisions, and 13 decisions. The losses were 11 by first-period pin, two by second-period pin, one by third-period pin, five by major decision, three by decision, and three by injury. Morenci was awarded 21 forfeit wins, yielded as many forfeits, and six double forfeits occurred.

Individually, Cota (120, 6 pins) and Carrasco (138, 5 pins) were both unscathed in 10 matches, placed first, and earned outstanding wrestler honors; Mark Roybal (145, 9-1, 9 pins) and Vierra (182, 7-2) both ended second; Morales (106, 7-3, 6 pins) ended third; Dunning (113, 6-4, 2 pins), Willey (220, 7-3, 2 pins), and Ortega (285, 8-2, 3 pins) each placed fourth; and Casillas (132, 6-3, 3 pins) fifth.

Cota pinned Conner Schweigert of Show in the semifinal third period and decisioned Troy Ramirez of Sunrise Mountain 7-3 for the title; Carrasco had a 23-7 semifinal technical fall over Marc Irigoyen of Round Valley and decisioned Talon Wilhelm of Show Low 11-4 in the championship match.

Roybal pinned Drake Wright of Show Low in the semifinal first period and was decisioned 7-12 by Gary Rice of Sandra Day O’Connor in the final; Vierra decisioned Ben DeWitt of Show Low 12-6 during the semifinal and fell by a 1-12 major decision to Adam Henderson of Blue Ridge in the final; Morales was pinned by Tanner Fellows of Show Low in the semifinal first period and decisioning Mark Saucedo of Santa Cruz 8-5 for third place.

Dunning fell in a semifinal 2-12 major decision to Caden Perez of Sunrise Mountain and in an 11-14 decision to Dyson Navarro of Blue Ridge to end fourth; Willey succumbed by first-period pin to Nathan Wagner Jr. of Chinle during the semifinal and by injury to Luke Whittle of Snowflake to end fourth; Ortega fell by first period pin to Ahli Foster of Winslow during the semifinal and by second period pin to John Holden of Saint Johns to finish fourth; and Casillas had a 17-0 technical fall over Matthew Owen of Snowflake for fifth place.

Steven Roybal (170, 5-3, 2 pins) and Aguallo (126, 3-3) did not qualify for the individual portion of the meet.

Pima Multi (Dec. 6)

Eleven Wildcats notched three dual wins during the Pima Multi meet Dec. 6. The wins were 51-18 over the Willcox Cowboys, 50-18 over the Pima Roughriders, and 53-21 over the Thatcher Eagles.

Morenci tallied a 17-4 (14 pins) overall record in head-to-head bouts, with eight first period pins, one second period pin, one third period pin, four technical falls, one major decision, and two decisions. The losses were one by first-period pin and three by second-period pin. There were 10 forfeit wins, six forfeits, and five double forfeits handed out.

Individually, Cota (120, 2 pins), Casillas (132, 1 pin), Carrasco (138/145, 2 pins), Vierra (182, 2 pins), Willey (220, 2 pins), Ortega (285), and Dunning (113, 2 pins) each went 3-0; Steven Roybal (170, 1 pin) and Aguallo (126, 1 pin) both 2-1; senior Gabriel Cabrera (152, 1 pin) 1-0; and Hernandez (195) 1-2.

Nate Johnson Duals (Dec. 1-2)

Ten Wildcats competed in the two-day Nate Johnson Duals at Mesa Red Mountain Dec. 1-2.

Morenci won three of 10 duals, topping the Florence Gophers 39-33, the Scottsdale Chaparral Firebirds 47-30, and the Laveen Fairfax Stampede 48-24. The losses were 27-50 to the Scottsdale Desert Mountain Wolves, 18-57 to the Veil Cienega Bobcats, 12-54 to the Tempe Corona Del Sol Aztecs, 39-42 to the Chandler Hamilton Huskies, 30-42 to the Queen Creek American Leadership Patriots, and 36-42 to the Tempe Mountain Pointe Pride.

Photo By Raymundo Frasquillo: Junior 220-pounder Nathan Willey went 10-0 with eight pins during the Nate Johnson Duals at Mesa Red Mountain. An injury has sidelined him.

The Wildcats posted a collective 51-22 (40 pins) overall record in head-to-head bouts, with 19 first period pins, 14-second period pins, four third period pins, three technical falls, one major decision, and 10 decisions. The losses were eight by first-period pin, four by second-period pin, one by major decision, and nine by decision. Morenci gained eight forfeit wins and yielded 54. Three double forfeits resulted in zero points.

Individually, Willey (220, 8 pins) went 10-0, Carrasco (138/145, 8 pins) and Vierra (182, 3 pins) both 9-1, Cota (120/126, 6 pins) and Morales (106, 6 pins) both 8-2, Steven Roybal (170, 4 pins) and Casillas (132, 4 pins) both 5-5, Ortega (285) 4-6, Cabrera (152, 1 pin) 1-2, and Dunning (113) 0-3.