Mike Powers| News-Bulletin photos 

Los Lunas wrestler Logan Talley flexes in celebration after ending his career with an individual state championship. 

Belen’s Augustine Lopez ended his high school career with an individual title at the New Mexico State Wrestling Championships in Rio Rancho. 

RIO RANCHOThe overall drama and joy that the Belen Eagles felt when capturing the 2023 4A title was largely absent at this years’ New Mexico State Wrestling Championships, replaced at times by frustration and tears.    

Despite that, there was still reason to celebrate at the 2024 state tournament. BHS captured third place, Los Lunas fifth in 5A and Valencia tied for eighth in the all-class girl’s championship.  

It was a team effort, as the Belen Eagles finished in third place at the 4A New Mexico State Wrestling Championships in Rio Rancho.

Saturday’s championship matches began with pomp and pageantry at the Rio Rancho Events Center. The competition featured three matches at a time, one for each of the classifications.   

The Eagles had three wrestlers in the finals, starting at 107 pounds with Joshua Jaramillo against Andres Lopez, an eighth-grader from West Las Vegas. Each had just one loss entering the match, but Lopez was able to post an 8-2 victory over the BHS junior.   

Two-time state champion and 2023 runner-up Diego Avila was next for the Eagles at 145 pounds, facing Tony Thompson of Aztec. Late in the first round, Avila was forced to his back and in obvious pain from a torn labrum suffered earlier in the season. Thompson was able to register the pin.   

“I’m still definitely proud of my career and all that I’ve done,” Avila, a senior, said. “But it just sucks, especially to go out like that.”  

Avila wrestled last season following ACL surgery.   

In front of a large crowd, Belen, Los Lunas and Valencia had impressive showings at the New Mexico State Wrestling Championships in Rio Rancho.

One of the highlights for the entire tournament came when Belen’s Augustine Lopez took to the mat at 189 pounds against Joshua Parker of Artesia. Lopez ended his high school career by scoring one of the quickest falls in the entire championship, just 24 seconds into the match.    

“It doesn’t feel real, honestly. It hasn’t set in yet,” said Augustine. “I’ve been working my whole life for that. It finally paid off.” 

After winning a state individual wrestling title, Belen’s Augustine Lopez picked up assistant coach Chris Perea and pinned him to the mat in celebration.

After the final handshakes, Augustine surprised the large crowd by grabbing hefty assistant coach Chris Perea, lifting him up and throwing him to the mat in celebration.   

Bloomfield, which was edged by the Eagles last year, won the team title, followed by Aztec and Belen.  

“It’s not what we wanted but we’re proud of placing,” said BHS coach Nick Martinez. “We’re proud of where we ended up.”   

The chances of a Belen repeat championship suffered a blow earlier during the semifinals when Derian Rodriguez lost a controversial match at 127 pounds. (See story for details.)  

Valencia tied for 14th place, with Elijah Duran taking fourth in the 215-pound weight class.  

“We had a tough second day for the boys, but we were happy with the outcome,” said VHS coach Emanual Aragon. “We’re just progressing, getting better every year.”   

Logan Talley won an individual title for Los Lunas while helping the Tigers to fifth place at the 5A New Mexico State Wrestling Championships.

In 5A, Los Lunas “saved the best for last,” as Logan Talley grabbed the title at 189 pounds with a second period pin against Elijah Gawronski of Volcano Vista.  

“I’m excited and happy to finally have that title. I hope I made my dad proud,” an emotional Talley said. “He’s the reason I started wrestling.”   

Noah Gurule was the other Tiger who reached the championship match, coming up short in a 3-0 decision at 121 pounds to Cibola’s Diego Torrez.    

“We did good overall — I’m so proud,” said LLHS coach Steve Chavez of the fifth-place finish. “They left everything on the mat, they really did. That’s what we want, just go out there and do the best they can.”   

Volcano Vista captured the 5A team title.   

Valencia’s Zipporah Heneghan prepares for her title match to resume at the New Mexico State Wrestling Championships in Rio Rancho.

Cleveland won the title in the combined girls’ competition, but Valencia was one of the best stories of the tournament. With only three wrestlers, the Jaguars finished tied for eighth on the strength of two individual finalists.     

Both Alexis Avis-Labus, at 107-pounds, and Zipporah Heneghan, at 132 pounds, lost by pin in their title matches.  

“I did better than I thought I was going to at the beginning of the season. We really did good, us girls,” Heneghan said of the team.    

Avis-Labus agreed.  

“It’s so amazing, just to see how far we’ve come — we’re just making wrestling bigger — I can’t wait until next year.”   

State 4A individual results  

107 pounds: 2. Joshua Jaramillo, BHS, junior; 4. Yovan Suarez, VHS, sophomore  

114 pounds: 5. Manny Vardez, BHS, sophomore  

127 pounds: 6. Derian Rodriguez, BHS, senior  

139 pounds: 5. Edward Freeman, BHS, junior  

145 pounds: 2. Diego Avila, BHS, senior  

189 pounds: 1. Augustine Lopez, BHS, senior

Valencia’s Alexus Avis-Labus placed second, as the Jaguars earned a top-ten spot in the all-class New Mexico State Girls Wrestling Championships in Rio Rancho. 

215 pounds: 4. Elijah Duran, VHS, senior 

State 4A team results  

  1. Bloomfield 187 
  2. Aztec 172 
  3. Belen 143 
  4. West Las Vegas 98.5 
  5. Valencia (tie) 44 

State 5A individual results  

107 pounds: 5. Matthew Valdez, LLHS, eighth grade  

114 pounds: 6. Andrew Sanchez, LLHS, freshman  

121 pounds: 2. Noah Gurule, LLHS, senior  

127 pounds: 5. Andres Romero, LLHS, sophomore  

160 pounds: 3. James Bachicha, LLHS, junior  

189 pounds: 1. Logan Talley, LLHS, senior  

State 5A team results  

  1. Volcano Vista 253.5 
  2. Cleveland 206.5 
  3. La Cueva 151 
  4. Atrisco Heritage 150 
  5. Los Lunas 138 

All-Class girls individual results  

107 pounds: 2. Alexis Avis-Labus, VHS, sophomore  

132 pounds: 2. Zipporah Heneghan, VHS, senior  

138 pounds: 4. Katie Booth, VHS, senior  

All-Class girls team scores  

  1. Cleveland 102.5 
  2. Atrisco Heritage 95 
  3. Farmington 89 
  4. Sandia 84.5 
  5. Valencia (tie) 63
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Mike Powers spent more than 40 years as a television news and sports anchor, mostly in the Albuquerque market. He has won numerous awards including New Mexico Sportscaster of the Year. He covers a wide range of sports, including the Valencia County prep scene.