NMHU wrestling off to strong start

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By Dave Kavanaugh

Poor driving conditions due to snow and ice were blamed for the postponement of Friday night’s scheduled dual meet between host New Mexico Highlands and Adams State.

The Grizzlies are ranked No. 16 in NCAA Division II college wrestling, according to the latest poll.

No make-up date had been named as of press time.

Highlands was scheduled to compete against Air Force on Sunday in Colorado Springs. That dual was to take place after this issue went to press.

Highlands had opened its month by winning two dual meets in its own Northwestern Mutual Triangular on Jan. 6 at La Cueva High School in Albuquerque.

NMHU hardly seemed rusty in its first weekend back on the mat in over a month. The team hadn’t wrestled since the Bob Smith Open on Dec. 1 in Hays, Kans.

Returning 174-pound standout Easton Hargrave pinned All-American Jose Cruz III in the second period of their match to highlight the Cowboys’ 30-12 win over Embry Riddle. Albuquerque sophomore Robert Lopez Jr. (141 lbs.) and Mesquite sophomore Oscar Escajeda (285) pulled out gritty wins to help the Highlands cause.

Then the Cowboys bested Wayland Baptist 34-16, getting individual victories from Lopez as well as Santa Teresa freshman Erick Rangel (125), Austin Morrow (133),

Santa Fe senior Travis Saxon (165), Igor Gomzin (184) and Robert Rockhill (285).

The Cowboys are led by head coach Doug Moses. Among the grapplers in the program are a couple well familiar to Las Vegans. Daniel Martinez, a redshirt freshman, won five individual state titles at Robertson High. And junior Christian Rubalcaba, originally of Las Vegas, starred for the juggernaut Rio Rancho program.