St. Michael’s heavyweight Regenold hope agility helps land state title
RIO RANCHO — Tayo Regenold is everything Chris Montoya could want in a heavyweight wrestler.
At 6-feet-3 and 270 pounds, Regenold is the perfect specimen for Montoya, the St. Michael’s head coach, to mold into a state champion. But it’s more than Regenold’s size that caught Montoya’s attention.
“Tayo moves like he’s 170 pounds,” said Montoya, a 2007 St. Michael’s graduate and a 2007 state champion at 145 pounds. “The reason he is so hard to wrestle, I tell people, is that he is a 270-pound bear who moves like a 170-pound person.”
That combination of strength, size and agility has the St. Michael’s senior on the cusp of a Class 1A/3A state title. Regenold needed just 49 seconds to dispose of Socorro’s Dylan Avalos by pin Friday in the opening round of the State Wrestling Championships in the Santa Ana Star Center. Regenold, the top seed in the heavyweight division, takes on Cobre’s Reagan Arsola in Saturday morning’s semifinal round.
With a win, Regenold will secure a spot on the podium — which is the top four in the state’s smallest class — for the first time. He came close last February, losing to the eventual state champion in the semifinals.
One thing that Montoya noticed when he got Regenold in the wrestling room after the football season ended was that Regenold had plenty to learn. Even Regenold admitted that his wrestling skills were limited.
“I wish it could be a bit better,” Regenold said. “I definitely have to say I am lacking on the skill. I rely more on my strength and speed. But we’re at state, so it’s as good as it’s going to get.”
Montoya said Regenold has improved so that he has four or five moves he can use, versus the two he had at the start of the season. Montoya credited that to the senior’s work ethic.
“He is a very dedicated athlete,” Montoya said. “He works extremely hard, so it’s nice that he’s taken that direction and energy into wrestling. I have one of the biggest, most athletic heavyweights in the state to work with. From my perspective, I get everything I would want and more because I have an athlete people dream of. I just got to show him how to wrestle.”
And Regenold has done that. His record is 23-2 entering Saturday’s final day, and his two losses were to 5A wrestlers. They both came during the Joe Vivian Classic, as Albuquerque La Cueva’s Christian Rodriguez pinned Regenold with 24 seconds left in their quarterfinal matchup — one that Regenold was leading until the 5-8 Rodriguez picked up Regenold and tossed him to the ground. Regenold then lost to Albuquerque Valley’s Angelo Maestas in the consolation semifinals before taking fifth in the state’s biggest regular-season tournament.
Otherwise, he has been dominant, collecting 11 pins. Regenold feels his football experience has been invaluable because of the footwork he learned.
“It’s a huge part of it, especially if you want to take more shots,” Regenold said. “That is why I am trying to do more of it. It really helps to be able to maneuver.”
Regenold said his only disappointment in his lone match of the opening day was that it took so long to take down Avalos. It was the first time Regenold faced the Warriors sophomore. Then, he shot at Avalos’ left leg and took the Socorro wrestler to the ground. It took him about 15 seconds before the referee slapped his hand to the mat, signalling the pin.
“As soon as he took his shot at me, I knew [I could take him down],” Regenold said.
His semifinal match against Arsola should be more challenging. The two wrestled in the quarterfinals of Las Vegas Robertson’s Cardinal Classic on Jan. 26, and Arsola took him to the third period before Regenold pinned him 15 seconds in.
It was one of six times he reached the final period or overtime this season.
“It’s kinda weird,” Regenold said. “There are some good people near the top [of each tournament], so I have a bunch of quick matches, then I’m thrown into a harder match all of a sudden.”
But like a nimble lineman, Regenold can make the appropriate read and adjust.
Day 1 action: The Horsemen got four wrestlers into the semifinals, with Regenold, freshman Jacobi Herndon (160 pounds), Jaden Mifsud (170) and Alejandro Talamantes (192). Also getting off to a good start was Pecos, as four Panthers advanced to the final four with Christopher Ortiz (106), Isreal Villegas (113), Estevan Atilano (120) and Thomas Vigil (160). Top-seeded Derik Ortiz lost his first-round match to Cobre’s Marley Gutierrez in the 182-pound division as Gutierrez scored a last-second reversal for a 3-2 upset. Tierra Encantada’s Isidro Contreras reached the 138 semifinals.
Meanwhile, Las Vegas Robertson has nine wrestlers in the semifinals and was in second place behind the Indians in the team standings.
In Class 4A, Taos has seven wrestlers in the semifinals and nabbed fourth place in the team standings. Los Alamos was in fifth and had six wrestlers in the semifinals. Pojoaque Valley’s Javier Tapia reached the semifinals at 170 pounds as he goes for his fourth state title and his fifth straight finals appearance. Edgar Sanchez of Española Valley also reached the semifinals at 145 pounds.
Santa Fe High has three wrestlers in the semifinals, including 152-pounder Sammy Martinez. Capital’s Julian Sanchez will face Albuquerque Sandia’s Jacob Telles for the fourth time this season as the two meet in the semifinals.