High school wrestling may not be as big a spectator sport here in the Valley as sports such as football, basketball and baseball are, but local wrestlers consistently compete and succeed at the state tournament level while local football, basketball and baseball teams rarely do. Case in point, Juarez-Lincoln’s Leslie Oliva and Jesenia Gaytan, Veterans Memorial’s Klarissa Blanco and Palmview’s Gustavo Arpero, all of whom medaled at the UIL State Wrestling Tournament last year.
How many of this year’s crop of Big 7 schools’ wrestlers will qualify for and possibly medal at state is yet to be determined, however 50 of them have taken the first step towards that end by qualifying for the UIL Region IV 5A and 6A Wrestling Tournaments taking place in Austin and San Antonio respectively this weekend.
The Lady Coyotes wrestling team made up of Natalee Guzman, Estephany De La Rosa, Jacqueline Beltran, Rosie Ramirez, Steffany Rosas, Felicia Hernandez, Veronica Montes and Elizabeth Ochoa (L-R) earned the first girls wrestling district championship for La Joya High School since its three-way split. Progress Times photo by Luciano Guerra
While wrestling is an individual sport, each wrestler’s points are added to his or her teammates’ points to determine which boys’ and which girls’ teams earned their respective district championships. At the District 16-5A tournament, which took place in Rio Grande City last Thursday, it was the Pioneer Diamondbacks that took the boys district championship. And at the District 16-6A tournament, which took place at McAllen Memorial High School last Friday and Saturday, it was the La Joya Lady Coyotes that took the girls district championship.
First year La Joya head girls wrestling coach, Christopher Hernandez, shared how close it was between his Lady Coyotes and the defending district champions, the Juarez-Lincoln Lady Huskies, when it came to the team competition.
“On the first day there were actually a few teams in the running,” Hernandez said. “We only had a three-point lead over Juarez-Lincoln going into the second day so we were neck-and-neck. We wanted to continue the momentum we had from the first day into the second day so I told my girls to put everything they had into it. The points started to come together for us as we won most of our matches, but they did the same, so we both pulled away from the other 17 teams. When all was said-and-done, we won the tournament with 162 points and the Lady Huskies came in second with 151 points.”
Individual district champions for the Lady Coyotes are Rosie Ramirez (119 lbs.) and Steffany Rosas (185 lbs.). Regional qualifiers are Estephany De La Rosa (2nd, 95 lbs.), Jacqueline Beltran (4th, 110 lbs.), Elizabeth Ochoa (3rd, 128 lbs.), Veronica Montes (3rd, 148 lbs.),
Individual district champions for the Lady Huskies are Diana Acuna (95 lbs.), Nancy Becerra (128 lbs.) and Jesenia Gaytan (215 lbs.). Regional qualifiers are Vanessa Doria (3rd, 102 lbs.) and Guadalupe Chavez (2nd, 102 lbs.).
Keyla Gutierrez (2nd, 215 lbs.) of the Palmview Lady Lobos was the only other 16-6A girls’ regional qualifier among Big 7 schools’ teams.
Five Big 7 schools’ boys earned individual district championships at the 16-6A tournament. They are Mission High’s Guadalupe Rodriguez (138 lbs.) and Manuel Vega (160 lbs.), Juarez-Lincoln’s Ricardo Villegas (145 lbs.) and Eliutt Gonzalez (220 lbs.) and Palmview’s Arnoldo Nacianceno (170 lbs.). Boys’ regional qualifiers are Mission High’s Agustin Orellana (2nd, 106 lbs.), Alberto Juarez (2nd, 113 lbs.) and Victor Gutierrez (3rd, 182 lbs.), Juarez-Lincoln’s Leonardo Mendez (2nd, 138 lbs.) and Alexander Silva (4th, 152 lbs.) and La Joya’s Gaudencio Tavarez (3rd, 126 lbs.).
In the District 16-5A tournament, the Pioneer boys bettered Rio Grande City by only two points, 199.5 to 197.5, to take the team championship. Individual district champions for the Diamondbacks are Diego Serna (106 lbs.), Brandon Pritchard (152 lbs.), Dominique Rodriguez (182 lbs.) and Emmanuel Huerta (195 lbs.). Pioneer boys that qualified for the regional tournament are Luis de la Cruz (3rd, 120 lbs.), Juvel Castillo (3rd, 126 lbs.), Michael Dominguez (4th, 132 lbs.), Manuel Almanza (3rd, 160 lbs.), Angel Resio (3rd, 170 lbs.) and Ethan Garza (4th, 220 lbs.).
Two Sharyland High and one Veterans Memorial High boys earned district championships as well. They are Sharyland’s Juan Colegio (126 lbs.) and Joseth Suarez (132 lbs.) and Veterans Memorial’s Armando Bustillos (120 lbs.). Sharyland High boys that qualified for the regional tournament are Abraham Flores (2nd, 113 lbs.), Ray Sanchez (3rd, 138 lbs.), Carlos Vera (3rd, 152 lbs.), Noe Cortez (4th, 170 lbs.) and Gabriel Martinez (2nd, 185 lbs.). The Patriots’ regional qualifiers are Mauricio Vela (4th, 126 lbs.), Daniel Arvizu (2nd, 138 lbs.) and Eric Chavez (3rd, 145 lbs.).
The only Big 7 schools’ girl wrestler to earn a district championship at the District 16-5A tournament was Pioneer’s Mia Padilla (138 lbs.). Regional qualifiers for the girls are Pioneer’s Lisaannette Calderon (2nd, 148 lbs.), Sharyland High’s Marissa Rubio (3rd, 95 lbs.) and Yamile Vilchis (2nd, 128 lbs.) and Veterans Memorial’s Kaitlan Trevino (3rd, 148 lbs.) and Valerie Cordova (3rd, 165 lbs.).
Both regional tournaments are taking place today and tomorrow; the Region IV 5A tournament at the AISD Delco Activity Center in Austin and the Region IV 6A tournament at the Blossom Center in San Antonio.