Last weekend, Big 7 wrestling teams traveled across Texas to compete in tournaments against the state’s toughest competition. Three tournaments hosted Big 7 Teams: the All-American Cat Classic hosted by Edinburg CISD in Edinburg, Texas, the Craig T. Grace CenTex Tournament hosted by Austin ISD in Austin, Texas, and the CFISD Invitational hosted by Cypress-Fairbanks ISD in Cypress, Texas. Several teams and wrestlers rose above the rest, securing top spots in their respective fields. This is a brief recap of the weekend’s top performers.
All American Cat-Classic
Twenty-three Valley teams competed against each other for two days at the Edinburg Parks and Recreation Health and Wellness Center. The Sharyland Pioneer Diamondback and the La Joya Lady Coyotes finished ahead of all other Big 7 Teams, placing third and seventh, respectively.
The Lady Coyotes finished with the most top 6 finishes amongst Big 7 teams in attendance with wrestlers Britney Martinez, Laura Gracia, Jaqueline Garcia, and Angelica Silva all scoring. Garcia and Sharyland Pioneer Lady Diamondback wrestler Ariandna Lona (145 lbs) placed 2nd in their weight classes. Garcia lost her championship match to Brownsville Lopez wrestler Patricia Vivar (14-1), while Lona lost her championship match to returning state qualifier Arsyn Sadlier (29-0).
Although Sharyland Pioneer finished as the highest-ranked boys team, La Joya area standouts held their own. Palmview Lobos Rodrigo Nuncio, Mario Martinez, and Hector Lerma finished inside the top 4, with Nuncio winning the 126 weight class and improving his record to 13-1. Christopher Fuentes and Rene Molar of Sharyland Pioneer second-place finishes carried the Diamondbacks into third place in the final team’s standings. Fuentes’s finish in the 215 weight class, with 24 points scored, led the way for the Diamondbacks.
The Sharyland Rattlers and Mission Veterans Memorial Boys and Girls wrestling teams competed in one of the largest Texas tournaments of the year. With a field of eighty one 5 and 6A schools jampacked into the Berry Center, the CFISD provided the weekend’s most extensive and diverse collection of competitors.
Sharyland Rattler Aiden Baker (22-2) and Mission Patriot wrestler Joaquin Cordero (20-3) represented the Big 7 as top performers in their respective weight classes. Cordero dropped from the 190-pound weight class and competed in a stacked 175-pound weight class featuring over sixty of the best 175-pound wrestlers the state offers. His tournament record was 4-2, with one loss by decision and one by fall.
Baker was the only Big 7 wrestler to place and one of only two Valley wrestlers in the top eight. Baker’s tournament record was 5-2, with two losses coming against top 3 state-ranked 6A wrestlers. Baker had chances to win both matches but lost close decisions (7-4 and 6-3). His 7th (out of 56) place finish was the highest amongst Valley wrestlers. Sharyland Rattler Jorge Avila (150lbs) also competed well in his 63-man bracket, securing a similar 5-2 record and improving his overall record to 17-4.
Craig T. Grace Centex Tournament
Forty teams competed inside the Delco Center in Austin, Texas, at the 19th Craig T. Grace Invitational. “Centex,” as it’s known across the state, is a prestigious tournament that allows teams to compete against some of the best wrestlers in central and southern Texas. In most years, Valley teams are well represented, but only four Valley teams made the trip this year. Sharyland Pioneer and La Joya Juarez-Lincoln were the only Big 7 teams in attendance. Sharyland Pioneer finished placing 5th overall. The Juarez-Lincoln boys’ and girls’ teams placed in the top 8, placing 7th and 8th, respectively.
Juarez-Lincoln wrestler Julieta Chapa continued her fantastic season with another appearance in the championship round at 100 lbs, securing 2nd place after losing to an Austin-area wrestler. With an overall record of 17-5 and 2nd place finish this past weekend, Chapa has positioned herself as one of the best 100-pound wrestlers in the Valley. Her teammate, Dafne Gaona, had a similar tournament outcome in the 132 weight class. With a 3-1 tournament record and a 2nd place finish, her overall record now stands at 21-8. Huskies Angel Alaniz, Samuel Palomo, Mario Ornelas, and Alfonso Lopez all placed inside the top 6, with Alaniz (20-2) and Lopez (23-5) placing 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
The Sharyland Pioneer Diamondbacks dual top 5 finishes in the All-American Cat Classic and at Centex has launched them back into the discussion of Top Big 7 team and in the conversation for top billing in the Region. Roel Molar (18-6), Sebastian Contreras (19-0), Rey Mata (23-6), and Joel Garza (20-3) all placed inside the top 3 of their respective weight classes. Molar and Garza placed 2nd, and Mata placed 6th. Contreras continued his campaign for a second consecutive regional championship with a pin in his championship match. Their 5th place finish without their entire roster is a testament to their training and commitment to winning.
This weekend, most Big 7 teams will compete at Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial High School for their annual Top Gun Invitational Tournament. The tournament is a defacto preliminary regional tournament featuring most of the top wrestlers in South Texas.
Upcoming major tournaments are the District 16-5A Championship Tournament hosted at Valley View High School in Pharr, Texas on February 2-3, 2024 and District 16-6A Championship Tournament will be hosted at La Joya High School in La Joya, Texas the same weekend. Regional 4-5A Championship Tournament will be February 9-10, 2024 at Delco Activity Center in Austin, Texas while the Region 4-6A Championship Tournament will be hosted the same dates in San Antonio, at the Texas Littleton Gymnasium. The UIL State Tournament will be February 16-17, 2024 at the Berry Center in Cypress, Texas.