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Miyamura’s Starkovich credits father in state title win

Navajo Times | Adron Gardner Miyamura’s Alias Starkovich attempts to slam Belen’s Lano Luna to the mat in the 152-pound weight class at the New Mexico 5A state wrestling tournament at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho Saturday.

Navajo Times | Adron Gardner
Miyamura’s Alias Starkovich attempts to slam Belen’s Lano Luna to the mat in the 152-pound weight class at the New Mexico 5A state wrestling tournament at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho Saturday.

RIO RANCHO

For the last 13 years of his wrestling career, Miyamura High senior Alias “AJ” Starkovich took his place on the center of the mat as his father took his corner.

His final high school match last weekend was like any other match. His father and coach Kenneth Starkovich encouraged him and reminded him to do the little things. And when Alias found himself nearing trouble, he would look to his corner.

That led him to a 2016 New Mexico state wrestling title in Rio Rancho, N.M.

Alias defeated Belen High’s Lano Luno for the 5A state title in the 152-pound weight class becoming the Patriots’ second ever state wrestling champion. He finished the season with an overall record of 47-1.

“It’s amazing being a state champ, it’s just something I’ve dreamed about the for the past 13 years, ever since I started wrestling, that’s really the ultimate goal in high school,” he said.

Kenneth wrestled for Gallup High in the 80s and later began coaching at Miyamura. He began coaching his son 13 years ago.

“We knew that he was a talented kid,” he said. “He actually left the sport for a couple of years. When I was coaching he would still come to practice and wanted to wrestler.”

Alias returned to the mat when he was in seventh grade. He eventually wrestled for Gallup High before transferring to Miyamura where his father also became the head coach for the team.

By that time, Kenneth said his son had already suffered a broken leg and concussion but had an undefeated season.

As a freshman, Alias qualified for the state tournament but missed placing by one round. From that point on, everything Alias did was about progress.

“Wrestling is a very different and interesting sport; everything is a process. Very few people can walk into the wrestling room and be good,” he said. “The more you wrestle, the better you get. The mat time over the years kept me progressing.”


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About The 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 sunnie@navajotimes.com or via cell at (505) 686-0769.

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