Wingate Bears will fight for state qualification

Navajo Times | Paul Natonabah
Juwan Charles of Newcomb High wraps up his opponent from Wingate High School for the win in the 145-pound weight class during Garrison Spencer Memorial Invitational last Saturday, Jan. 14.


Sometimes all one can ask for is a little bit more mat time.

That was the case for some of the local wrestling teams that didn’t finish out on top at the 2017 Garrison Spencer Memorial Wrestling Duels in Shiprock over the weekend.
Wingate, Newcomb, and Red Mesa also competed in the annual duels but didn’t finish in a more notable position as a team. They instead used the opportunity to get more time on the mat.

For the Bears, led by second-year head coach Lucas Lucio, they spent their time in Shiprock working on the little things.

Lucio said things have been looking up so far.

“They are actually looking pretty good,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of kids returning from last year and the year before and we’re just getting into the groove of getting everyone eligible in the classroom and keeping them healthy and well.”

The Bears have a long list of leaders who have returned for the team. Some of the more consistent ones are: Erin Lewis at 106 pounds; Desree Bryant at 126; Julius Billie at 152; Jordan Ashley at 160; Westlee Pete at 170 and Cordell Davis at 195.

Lucio said the team underwent some new changes this year to better fit his coaching philosophy and so far they’ve had positive results.

“Last year was my first year as a head coach for the school and I guess I tried to keep things the way the previous coach had done it, but to me it didn’t really fit,” he said. “I had to change things up; increase intensity, wrestling time and a lot of it is getting in our practice but also in the classroom.”

Lucio said the group did well over the weekend to take advantage of the mat time they received, but also worked on the things they needed to prepare them for state.
He said he hopes to take as many wrestlers as possible.

“We did fairly well, we came in third in our pool…and there’s still a lot of things the kids need to learn and again, just continuous improvement on all of the basic moves that everyone knows,” he said. “I hope to at least get the whole group in at the state level.”

Newcomb was in dire need of mat time.

The team received a coach late into the season and Shiprock duels was their first tournament.

Newcomb head coach Tom Yazzie said he wasn’t quite sure what he had to work with and that they needed more mat time to find out.

“There’s always potential,” he said. “A big part of it is get as much mat time as we can, we just have to see right now, it’s the first time on the mat again and they get stage fright – nervous.”

Leading the team from what Yazzie could see was senior Juwaun Charles at 145 pounds.

He saw some wins over the weekend, but like the others he needed more mat time.

The Red Mesa wrestling team has also seen its ups and downs this season.

With consistent returners Keithfer Jim, Ian Laneman and Ki Laneman returning from the previous season, Red Mesa looks to them to lead the team.

With sectionals around the corner, Red Mesa head coach Cal Laneman said his team just needs more practice time to do what they’ve been doing.

“We just get more mat time, try to get kids to get experience with other wrestlers,” he said. “Usually we wrestle Arizona teams, this give us a chance to wrestle other schools.”

Laneman said all three have been consistent throughout most of the season with the exception of Ki Laneman who was out due to an injury.

Cal Laneman said the team was focused on getting better as the classification competition has become stiff.

“We got our work cut out for us,” he said. “We got some bigger schools that came down to our division so we have to really fight for the state qualification.”

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Categories: Wrestling

About Author

Sunnie R. Clahchischiligi

Sunnie Clahchischiligi has been the sports writer for the Navajo Times since 2008. She has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from the University of New Mexico. Before joining the Times, she worked at the St. Cloud Times (Minn.), the Albuquerque Journal, the Santa Fe New Mexican, Sports Illustrated Magazine in New York City and the Salt Lake Tribune. She can be reached at or via cell at (505) 686-0769.