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WLV wrestlers 10th in Liberal

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By Dave Kavanaugh

Highlighted by John Armijo’s close-shave runner-up finish, the West Las Vegas Dons placed 10th with a short squad in Saturday’s big Southwest Classic in Liberal, Kan.

The Dons accumulated 57 team points, led by Armijo, who lost the 160-pound championship by one point.

Armijo had beaten Andrew Flanagin of Colby, Kan., in a Friday dual held in advance of the tournament. That match marked the first defeat of Flanagin’s season. The two ended up advancing through Saturday’s bracket and setting up a rematch in the championship bout. Armijo led 3-2 going into the third period, but Flanagin scored a late takedown and held on to grab a 4-3 decision. Both grapplers are now 13-1, with each having dealt the other their only defeat.

“John just couldn’t finish his shots,” said WLV coach Robert Alarcon. “He led (Flanagin) throughout the match.”

Armijo wasn’t the only Don to shine in Liberal. “We did fairly well,” Alarcon said. “It’s just a whole different level up there ... We had a few in the semis and in the quarters.”

Among the other top West performers were Conrad Mares, who went 2-2; Rosendo “Ross” Valdez, 2-2; and Mike Jaramillo, 2-2. Mares and Valdez have looked strong, Alarcon said. Jaramillo, he noted, lost a close decision — decided on a late reversal — that could have propelled him to the finals had he won.

“There were a lot of close matches.”

West was missing several grapplers, including Amanda De La Garza (112) and Camille Vasquez (119), and was short a heavyweight. De La Garza and Vasquez are expected back for this coming weekend.

Both RHS and WLV are competing in the Joe Vivian Classic this weekend at Cibola in Albuquerque. The tourney is regarded by many as the premier high school wrestling event in New Mexico and will include most of the top championship contenders in the state.