Wrestler’s father tries to get son’s suspension lifted

February 14, 2019

The father of Santa Fe High wrestler Isaac Beltran filed a motion Tuesday for a temporary restraining order in First Judicial District Court in the hopes of allowing his son to wrestle this season.

Beltran, a 132-pound contender for a state title in his weight class, was suspended Jan. 25 by the New Mexico Activities Association for punching Albuquerque Academy’s Jackson Taylor during a second-round match of the Joe Vivian Classic on Jan. 18.

Gustavo Beltran, the wrestler’s father, filed the application at 11:11 p.m. Tuesday, seeking relief from the suspension because “the Plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm if such relief is not granted” and that the Beltran’s “threatened injury outweighs any harm that might be caused to the to the Defendants as a result of granting such relief.”

The defendants in the matter are NMAA Executive Director Sally Marquez, Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Veronica García and Santa Fe Public Schools athletic director Larry Chavez.

Chavez had no comment, indicating it was the first time he had heard about the injunction application. Santa Fe High head wrestling coach Mark Hussey did not return a message seeking comment.

The application states that the NMAA violated Beltran’s right to due process when it suspended him for the rest of the season. It also asserts that a minor child referred to as “JT” pulled on Beltran’s hair and elbowed him “in the eye causing a black eye” and that the official did not take any action against the wrestler.

“As a result, IB defended himself by punching JT twice,” the application states. “IB then was tackled by an unknown male adult, affiliated with the Albuquerque Academy Wrestling Program.”

The application argues that Marquez never cited a bylaw in the NMAA handbook to support her decision, only referring to Beltran’s punches to Taylor and did not mention Taylor’s actions. It also states that Chavez and Garcia denied Beltran’s request to file an appeal, presumably to the organization’s board of directors.

The document also indicates that parents are not allowed to file appeals on behalf of their children to the NMAA.

When the suspension became public, Chavez said the school district would not file an appeal because of Isaac Beltran’s actions.

“The actions of our wrestler were inappropriate and shouldn’t have taken place,” Chavez said. “We don’t condone that kind of behavior. We strive to make our athletes self-advocates and make sure we promote that. We want all athletes to speak on their own behalf, no matter what the situation is.”

Hussey supplied a statement for the application, stating that the suspension “is an attack on the future of Isaac Beltran.”

“Isaac Beltran is personally devastated by the suspension,” Hussey said. “He fells [sic] remorse and a great deal of sadness. Isaac is worried that he might not have a chance to earn a scholarship through wrestling because of the suspension.”

The Albuquerque Journal on Jan. 30 reported it had received two videos of the incident, one of which appeared to showed Taylor grabbing at Beltran’s hair while the two grappled.

Another video focusing on the match next to the Beltran-Taylor match appeared to show Taylor throwing an elbow at Isaac Beltran, and the Santa Fe High junior responded with three punches to Taylor’s head before an Academy coach tackled him.

The timing of the injunction complicates matters regarding Beltran’s possible participation in the state wrestling tournament. According to NMAA bylaws, the district tournaments that begin this weekend determine qualifiers into the state tournament. However, they also allow for a “wild card” procedure for wrestlers who do not earn an automatic qualification — in the case of District 5-5A, the top three finishers at the individual tournament.

It is reserved, however, for district tournament participants. Chavez said that teams had to submit their entries for the tournament by 10 p.m. Tuesday.

Albuquerque High athletic director Doug Dorame, the 5-5A chairman, declined to comment.