When it comes to girls’ athletics most people think of sports like volleyball, softball, basketball and tennis. However, the sport of choice for many of the top female athletes at Juarez-Lincoln High School does not require a net, a bat, a hoop or even a ball. All girls like Stephanie Escobedo, Jackie Mendoza, Nancy Becerra, Yaritza Colunga and Leslie Oliva require to compete is a mat and an opponent. Their sport of choice is wrestling.
With the District 16-6A Team Dual Match Wrestling Tournament being held at Juarez-Lincoln High School today, the Lady Huskies will be looking to defend the championship they claimed last year at Weslaco East High School. If they win, this will be their fifth championship in six years.
“We wrestle one team against another team,” explained Vela. “The boys have 14 weight classes, so wrestlers from one school go up against wrestlers from another school in all 14 weight classes. The girls have 10 weight classes so they do the same but with only 10 girls from each school. Then the points each individual wrestler earns go towards his or her team’s total with the team having the highest total winning that particular head-to-head match.”
While today’s tournament was originally meant to be a two-day double-elimination tournament, plans have changed.
“This year, we’ve decided to make it a single-elimination tournament so if you lose you’re out, but if you win you keep on wrestling,” Vela said. “That way it will go much faster and we will hopefully be able to get what would’ve been a two-day tournament into one day.”
“We want weigh-ins to occur around 8 a.m. and then hopefully we’ll be able to start wrestling around 9 or 9:30. It will be open to the public with admission being $2 for students and $3 for adults,” added Vela
One of the girls Vela will be counting on to help take the girls’ championship today will be junior Leslie Oliva. Oliva, who competes in the 98 lb. weight class and is currently undefeated, is coming off a season in which she fell just short of earning the state championship.
“I didn’t wrestle my freshman year so last year was my first year of wrestling,” shared Oliva. “I was district and regional champion and I was the state silver medalist. As a team we won the dual match championship and I believe that we can win it again this year because I believe in my girls and we’ve been working really hard.”
Juarez-Lincoln Huskies boys
In last year’s District Team Dual Match tournament the Juarez-Lincoln Huskies boys came very close to bringing home the championship trophy. After wrestling their way to the championship match, the Huskies took the Nikki Rowe Warriors to overtime in the final match of the day before falling three points short of making it a clean sweep for the Juarez-Lincoln boys and girls.
While the Lady Huskies lost two of their top wrestlers to graduation, Coach Armando Resendez is having to deal with the loss of a significantly higher number of his Huskies boys wrestlers that helped lead Juarez-Lincoln to the District 16-5A championship last year.
“We lost five seniors from last year so while we are rebuilding we’re looking strong,” explained Resendez. “My wrestlers are focused and they want to win. They’re hungry to earn the championship that was taken from us last year. We just won the McAllen Memorial Tournament and we’re 6-0 as a team right now.”
“I have two of last year’s state qualifiers back this year,” added Resendez. “They are Edgar Delgado (220 lb.) and Andres Gonzalez (160 lb.). One of our district champions, Ezequiel Rodriguez (145 lb.) who didn’t compete at the regional meet because of an injury, is back as well.”
Along with Gonzalez, two of the wrestlers that have played a big part in the Huskies being undefeated this year are sophomore Rene Beas (182 lbs.) and senior Rene Loredo (195 lbs.).
When asked what it is about wrestling that appeals to him Baes said, “I like the discipline it takes to wrestle and I like the camaraderie we have on the team.”
What would it mean to win the dual match championship?
Loredo said, “It would be a really good accomplishment for our team. After coming so close to winning it last year we’re planning on winning it at home this year.”
Gonzalez agreed, “Being able to bring any championship trophy home is quite an accomplishment for the team and for us as individuals. But this being a tournament that we’re hosting would make it that much more of an accomplishment.”
Other Big 7 schools that will be competing in today’s District Dual Match Tournament are La Joya, Palmview and Mission High Schools.