The Taos Tiger wrestling team brought home hardware, after overtaking the Robertson Cardinals in the waning moments of the 2018 New Mexico state wrestling tournament to place third in Rio Rancho Feb. 16-17. The Tigers acquired that lead after Jesse Ayala won the individual title in the 220-pound division over Isaiah Sanchez from Silver City. Ayala and the Tigers needed every point he was able to muster in his finals match, including a fall (pin) on Sanchez at the 5:29 mark to catapult Taos into the third place slot with 153 total points. The Cardinals finished with 152.
Ayala was just one of three wrestlers for Taos who garnered a championship medal on the day. Tyler Valencia was crowned champion in the 132-pound class for his outstanding victory over Irven de La Torre from Cobre and Elisha Duran was the best female wrestler in the girl's 131-pound division – making history as the first woman to win a state title in wrestling for Taos.
Collectively, the two girls who competed for Taos – Elisha and AnnaLiz Duran – scored enough points to earn a third place as a team as well. AnnaLiz came in third place in the girl's 106-pound division.
For Coach Robert Valencia, it was the second consecutive year in which at least three of his wrestlers came out on top.