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War Ready

Big 7 Girls wrestling early season review

Sharyland sophomore Elvia Davila hitting a perfect sprawl to block a takedown. Progress Times photo by Joe Vela

The recent meteoric rise of RGV girls’ wrestling has been marvelous. Within the last decade, dozens of female athletes from across the valley exploded onto the wrestling scene, destroying opponents on the mat all over Texas. Their success and legacy have influenced a generation of female wrestlers and athletes across The Valley. The effect has been a fast-growing sport tailor-made for young female athletes wanting to realize their potential by competing in combat sports. The Big 7 has always had strong, capable, and noteworthy girls wrestling programs; this year is no exception. Here’s an early season review of their progress

 Sharyland Rattlers:

The Sharyland Rattlers girls wrestling team is on the rise. After losing their top wrestler, state qualifier Yarisbeth Zarate, to graduation, the Lady Rattlers return this year with a roster mixed with young and experienced fighters ready to create their own state-caliber legacies. Led by senior Serenity Chavez and sophomore Elvia Davila, the Rattlers possess one of the best wrestling duos in the Big 7 and the RGV. Chavez and Davila won their weight classes at the Lisa Torres Invitational and improved their records to 14-1 and 15-1, respectively. With past and future matches against some of the best competition the state of Texas has to offer, The Lady Rattlers aren’t waiting for their turn. They’re taking it now.

“Our girls’ team is made up of freshmen, sophomores and one senior; the senior and captain being Serenity Chavez. Her and my sophomore, Elvia Davila, have been having a stellar year. They have been showing great leadership for my young girls. We have a lot of potential to have a couple of girls qualify for state this year. And a bright future is ahead of us as long as we stay focused and hungry. We will make noise in the region and state this season,” head coach Sam Mangum said when asked about the state of his girl’s program.

Sharyland Pioneer:

The Sharyland Pioneer Lady Diamondback’s wrestling team returns two regional qualifiers in 107 lb. sophomore Hailyn Gonzalez and 145 lb. senior Ariadna Lona. Gonzalez placed 3rd at the District 16-5a tournament in the 100 lb. weight class a year ago and is 11-3 to start the season after a 2nd place finish at the Lisa Torres Invitational. Lona placed 4th and is getting acclimated to the new season with a 5-7 record and a recent 3rd place finish at the Lisa Torres Invitational. The remaining girls on the Lady Diamondbacks’ roster have little to no varsity wrestling experience. Yet, this past weekend, they finished inside the top 10 team standings and had three other girls, Destiny Salinas (120), Jennifer Rivera (126), and Chloe Cantu (132), finish inside the top 5 of their weight classes. Despite their age and inexperience, The Lady Diamondbacks depth and development will be something to keep an eye on this season.

“I told them, have fun and try your best. You’re gonna make mistakes and lose matches. Some of these girls are really good, but we’ll keep working. We’re trying to build a girls program. Last year, we only had two girls on the team; now, we’ve quadrupled that. But we are trying to build a girls program at our school. It just takes time,” head coach Donald Alexander said when explaining the growth of his girls wrestling program.

Mission Veterans

The Mission Veterans Lady Patriots wrestling team returns two state qualifiers and regional placers in sophomore Allie Salas and Junior Renatta Zapata. At last year’s Region 4-5A tournament, Salas and Zapata placed second and fourth in their respective weight classes. Jackie Mora and Soley Vela also return after qualifying for the Region 4-5A tournament last year, thanks to their strong performances at the district championships. The addition of varsity letterman Amaris Trevino and Jessica Perez arguably gives the Lady Patriots the most talented lineup in the Big 7. Last week at the Lisa Torres Invitational, all six wrestlers finished inside the top 6 of their weight classes, pushing the Lady Patriots to a fifth-place finish behind the likes of region powers Weslaco, Rio Grande City, and McAllen Memorial. In February, the Lady Patriots will be a serious contender for the 16-5A District Championship.

Mission Eagles

Coaches David Mann and Andy Rodriguez only expected improvement for their girls’ program. But after four new girls joined the team, increasing their past year total from two, the Lady Eagles wrestling program is surging. The Lady Eagles finished last at last year’s District 16-6A tournament. But after top 6 finishes from 100 lb. Tania Vasquez, 107 lb. Zara Garza, 114 lb. Diana Pruneda, 120 lb. Kimberly Gonzalez, 165 lb. Victoria Colunga, and 185 lb. Kyereina Acevedo at the Lisa Torres Invitational, the Lady Eagles seem to have the makings of potential contenders.

“We went from having two girls last year to having six girls competing. We have one senior and one junior. The girls are progressing very well. We think all six have a real good chance of making it to regionals this year and that would be a first for the girls’ program to take that many to regionals,” head coach David Mann said

La Joya Juarez-Lincoln

When seniors Brooklyn Garza and Yamilex Hernandez graduated, the Juarez-Lincoln Lady Huskies wrestling team lost two of the best all-around wrestlers in Texas, as well as two of the best in Rio Grande Valley history. Losing that talent from your mat room is challenging, but juniors Julieta (10-3) Chapa and Dafine Gaona (14-3) have stepped up to fill the void. Chapa (100 lbs.) and Gaona (138 lbs.) fought their way into the top four of their weight classes, lifting the Lady Huskies to an 11th-place finish at the Lisa Torres Invitational last Saturday. With Genesis Herevia and Carol Garcia finishing in the top five, the Huskies have a brutal, competitive foursome. The Huskies may not see the podium at state this year, but they are serious threats to compete for medals at the 16-5A District Duals and team championships. Anything can happen after that.

La Joya Palmview

The Lady Lobos wrestling team has fewer matches under their belts than all other Big 7 programs, but their performance at the Lisa Torres Invitational put everyone on notice. Five of the seven Lady Lobos finished inside the top 6 of their weight classes. 114 lb. Klarissa Tijerina and 126 lb. Yazmin Martinez placed 2nd and 3rd in their weight classes. Their 10th place team finish will give them confidence in the future, especially at today’s Lobos Invitational. 

La Joya Coyotes

The La Joya Lady Coyotes wrestling team snuck up on all 17 teams this past weekend at the Lisa Torres Invitational and finished 3rd overall in the team standings. Six of the Coyotes’ nine wrestlers finished inside the top four of their weight classes. 145 lb. Daisy Vega (1st place, 11-3) and 100 lb. Britney Martinez (3rd place, 11-2) return stronger than ever after disappointing regional tournament finishes in 2023. Their experience and leadership have galvanized the underclassmen. Freshmen like Laura Gracia and Jaqueline Garcia are reaping the rewards as their progression increases tenfold with each match. Their early season success has positioned the Lady Coyotes as the Big 7 team to beat.

“While we are a young team, we do have high expectations for the year, and the team is starting to commit to the program and the mentality we strive for. This will be a long-term process, but we’re looking forward to continued improvement and the success that comes with the hard work we are putting in,” head coach Chris Hernandez said when asked about his team’s hot start.

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