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Wildcats’ Aniciete becomes Holiday Classic’s first four-time champion

When Alex Aniciete paraded off the podium Saturday at the Las Vegas Convention Center, he knew he was alone.

The Las Vegas senior and two-time state champion had not only seized an individual title in the 154-pound class of the Las Vegas Holiday Classic wrestling tournament, he accomplished something no one else has ever done.

“It’s crazy,” Aniciete said. “I don’t even know how to explain it. I’m the only four-time champion.”

With a 5-2 decision over Zach Prince of Hurricane (Utah), Aniciete became the first wrestler to capture four individual titles in the tournament’s history.

“He’s done it on his own,” Las Vegas coach Zach Hocker said. “He’s unique. He stands on his own two feet. It’s nothing I’ve done or it’s nothing any of his coaches have ever done. He’s an athlete.”

The Wildcats placed ninth in the 81-team showcase with 144 1/2 points. San Clemente (Calif.) breezed past Victor Valley (Calif.) 244-232 for the team championship.

Aniciete maneuvered his opponent with a quick shot to the legs, sending him onto the mat with nine seconds remaining in the third period.

“He was just rushing me,” Aniciete said. “That’s when I saw an opportunity to shoot. I took advantage of that and I just shot at his legs and got my two points.”

The bout was scoreless through the first period and played like a cat-and-mouse game as each wrestler waited for the other the first move. Aniciete was forced to remain on the attack.

“(Prince) was afraid to engage,” Hocker said. “In the third period, the kid was chasing. Alex capitalized. When you’re chasing someone like him, you’re going to get taken down.”

Las Vegas also benefited from Chris Caday’s second-place finish in the 108-pound class and Lahmad Evans’ fifth-place performance at heavyweight.

“We’re a sophomore-heavy team,” Hocker said. “This is a strong finish, and nobody saw this coming. I’m very proud of my guys.” 

Liberty had the strongest showing of the local teams, finishing fifth overall with 172 points. Michael Sanchez (122) and Connor Watanabe (160) took second in their respective classes. Michael Martinez (128) grabbed fifth, and Colin Schultz (154) finished seventh.

“This is probably a little bit tougher than our state tournament, but we have some talented guys,” said Liberty coach Billy Love. “Our kids have been working hard all year. We’ve only lost one dual meet (this year) and that was to Green Valley, the defending state champs. I think our kids have done an outstanding job.”

Palo Verde’s Kyle Leet defeated Mark Cruz of Cibola (Ariz.) for the 147-pound title.

Fabian Leos of Canyon Springs went to 21-1 on the season, securing the 222-pound title with a 3-2 decision over Coronado’s Mckenzie Murphy.

Rancho’s Abel Gomez claimed the 184-pound title  with a 14-4 win against Foothill’s Jacob Ozuna.

Boulder City’s Brandon Foster (197) and Rancho’s Brandon Flores (172) each placed second.

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