Seven Eagle wrestlers headed to state
The Hobbs wrestling team hosted its only home meet of the year on Saturday and it was the state qualifying tournament. Wrestling in Tasker Arena, Hobbs had six of its 10 grapplers earn a spot in the state tournament.
“Seven people that worked hard,” Hobbs coach Thomas Rotunno said. “Given the make up of this year’s team, we had a few guys who didn’t make it who are first-year individuals and also we have to throw in that Matt Sova (132 pounds) didn’t make it because he got injured (last week) and he would have definitely made it and placed in district.”
In addition to the six who qualified, Hobbs’ will also be sending Alexandra Ruvacalba to state. The sophomore Lady Eagle will be one of eight girls in the 101-weight class bracket to represent their school in New Mexico’s first girls’ state tournament. The exhibition tournament will have eight weight classes with eight girls per bracket, but will not feature any medal winners.
Overall, Rotunno was pleased with how the Eagles performed on the mats.
“Today was kind of an affirmation that if you work hard, good things will happen,” Rotunno said. “We still had a couple of guys who were iffy as far as their seeding is at, and they really settled down and wrestled fundamentally and came out on top.”
Hobbs had two wrestlers make it to the championship match, Michael Honigmann and Richie Padilla. Honigmann wrestled at 220 pounds while Padilla was in the 152-weight class.
“It feels good. I just came out and wrestled today,” Honigmann said. “It is called a predicament for a reason. You have just got to come out and wrestle. You have got to want to want it and you have to work all season to get it.”
Honigmann had a bye in the first round and needed just 33 seconds to pin his opponent in the 220 semifinals. In the championship match, Honigmann again pinned his opponent, taking out Las Cruces’ Zayne Alley with 1:07 left in the third period.
“He is an experienced guy and they have ducked him all season,” Rotunno said. “Now they had to show up here to wrestle him and he kind of proved to them why they shouldn’t be wrestling him.”
Honigmann wasn’t impressed by the competition. The Eagle senior would have liked to have some tougher matches.
“It was alright competition,” Honigmann said. “I would have liked to have more seasoned guys. The guy I beat for first place, he only wrestled half the season. He started at (Joe) Vivian (in Albuquerque). I would have liked to have had more competition, but it is what it is.”
Padilla pinned both his opponents to make it to the championship match. Padilla won his opening match in the first round. In his second match, he was trailing 8-0 with 20 seconds left in the third round when he pinned his opponent. In the championship match, Padilla lost by pin to Carlsbad’s Justin Wood.
The four grapplers to make it to the consolation finals were DeAndre Smith (145), Matthew Felicitti (160), Jimmy Harrison
(195), and Zach Turner (heavyweight). Smith was the only Eagle grappler to lose in the consolation finals.
“That is kind of where we sit this year with the district,” Rotunno said. “With experience-heavy Cruces and Carlsbad, then it was basically us. We did our best to get ahead in some of those matches and try to break through to the finals, but it didn’t come through, but we still finished solid there with third and fourths.”
Smith won his opening match by pin in the second period. He then lost by pin in the semifinals. In the consolation bracket semifinals, Smith pinned his opponent to earn a spot in the state tournament. In the third place match, Smith lost by pin in the second period.
Felicitti beat his opening round opponent 5-0. After losing in the semifinals, Felicitti went up against Kasin Talbot in the consolation bracket. Already guaranteed a spot in the state tournament, Felicitti went up against Talbot again, and beat him again, this time by a 4-0 margin.
Harrison had a bye in the first round, putting him directly in the semifinals. He lost that match by a 6-2 decision.
“The first match was really tough,” Harrison said. “We were both even and he just got the better of me. He beat me fair and square.”
In the wrestlebacks semifinals, Harrison won by pin. He then won by pin again in the third place match, taking down Joseph Chavez of Carlsbad.
“He beat me earlier in the season, but I beat him in Carlsbad,” Harrison said. “I knew I had a good match ahead of me, so I just got the job done.”
In the heavyweight division, Turner lost to Mayfield’s Sebastian Compean by a 3-2 decision in the semifinals. He won by pin 54 seconds into the first round of the consolations semifinals. In the third place match, Turner had a 5-2 lead in the third period, but didn’t need it as he pinned Centennial’s Daniel Chavez with 1:29 left on the clock.
Brayden Strickland, Kamryn Collins, Dexter Nelson, Nick Hernandez all wrestled as well, but did not make it to the medal rounds.
Strickland lost both his matches in the 113-weight class. He was pinned in the first round and then, following a bye in the consolation round, he lost by pin again.
Collins lost his opening match by pin. In the wrestlebacks, he won an 8-4 decision, but lost by technical fall in the 138-weight class consolation semifinals.
Nelson and Hernandez each lost both their matches by pin. Nelson wrestled in the 170-weight class while Hernandez was at 182 pounds.