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Big 7 Wrestling: State Championships Recap

Rattlers show out in Houston

The 23-24 high school wrestling season ended last week in Houston, Texas, as thousands of fans packed the Berry Center in Cypress to watch hundreds of the state’s premiere 5A and 6A wrestlers compete at the UIL State Championships. Seven Big 7 wrestlers from Sharyland High School, La Joya High School, and La Joya Juarez-Lincoln High School qualified for the state tournament. With four wrestlers competing in the 5A tournament, Sharyland High School was the most represented Big 7 school at state, qualifying three boys and the only Big 7 female wrestler.

The Rattler boys won the 16-5A District Duals and team championships and finished in the top 10 at the Region 4- 5A regional championships before the state meet. At the state meet, wrestlers Aiden Baker, Nicholas Torres, and Jorge Avila finished in the top 8 of their respective weight classes. Baker and Torres secured 4th place medals in the 113 and 138 weight classes after fighting through the consolation bracket and into third-place matches. Avila, the Nikki Rowe transfer and second-year wrestler, narrowly missed the podium in the 150 weight class after losing to the 4th and 2nd best 150lb wrestlers in the state. He finished the year with a 34-9 overall record. First-year wrestler Elvia Davila did not make it to the tournament’s second day but finished the year with a 20-6 overall record, the 120lb District 16-5A girls crown, and stands alone as the sole Big 7 female state qualifier. The Rattlers have enjoyed tremendous success in the past decade, but that isn’t what’s important to them. What’s most important is the process and how it’s sharpened more than just their wrestling skills, fashioning them into strong, capable individuals.

By medaling at state, Baker and Torres cemented their legacies at Sharyland High School in just their second year on varsity.

Aiden Baker (42-5) 113lb

Accolades: 2x District Champion, 2x Regional Qualifier, 2x Regional Champion  2x State Qualifier, 1x State Medalist (4th place), 1x UIL All-State Medalist

Aiden Baker’s journey to the state tournament may have come easier than others, but the work it took was not. Baker trains year round and works tirelessly on his conditioning and technique. He is a wrestling junkie that eats, sleeps and breathes wrestling. Aiden repeated as district and regional champion in his weight class, won the vaunted Top Gun Invitational, and placed in the top 7 at the pre-state Cy-Fair Invitational– all while maintaining an A average as a student. Wins don’t phase Baker, the grind and process of improving his skills does. He plans to continue wrestling in the summer by competing in Greco and Freestyle tournaments and is singularly focused on returning from the state meet next year as a state champion.

“I want to win district, regionals and state champ next year. I want to definitely be a better wrestler mentally and physically. I want to be a way harder worker. I’m going to lead by example and not by words. I’m going to lead by showing them hard work, doing the drills fast, no messing around, just full-on hard work,” Baker said when asked what his goals for next season are.

Nicholas Torres (38-6) 138lb

Accolades: 2x District Champion, 1x State Qualifier, 1x State medalist (4th place), 1x UIL All-State Medalist

Nicholas Torres comes from a wrestling family. His mother, Lisa Torres, was the late Sharyland High School assistant wrestling coach and his brother Noel was a varsity letterman and state qualifier himself at 132lbs. Last year, after winning district, Torres flamed out in the first day of the regional Tournament. This year, Torres re-dedicated himself to the sport and trained year round to right last season’s wrongs. He lifted more, attended more club practices, and focused on his conditioning. Torres entered the state tournament as a top seed after reaching the championship match at regionals and securing second place. Torres’ only losses in the tournament were to the same wrestler, Jo’Vone Valadez Hernandez of El Paso Andress, who finished one spot ahead of Torres in 3rd. Torres’ showing at the state tournament has inspired him to continue the work towards his ultimate goal: a state championship. Torres will be competing in pre-season Nationals and the Super 32 Invitational this summer. Like his teammate Baker, Torres’ ambitions extend beyond just this year. Torres is also an honor roll student and his long term goal is to wrestle alongside his brother Noel at Simpson College in Iowa. When speaking with Torres, it’s clear that his familial support and the belief they’ve instilled in him is the reason where he is today.

“If you want to achieve something you have to believe in yourself,” Torres said as he reminisced on his top 5 finish at state

When asked to reflect on the accomplishments of his wrestlers, head coach Sam Mangum was noticeably proud of their success, but even prouder of the people they’re developing into. His deepest insights weren’t about stratagem, competition, or the results of succeeding at both. They were about the sport he loves and how it’s impacted the student-athletes he loves to support.

“I love this sport. It’s not easy. If it was easy, everybody would do it. It builds character and builds a lot of good characteristics; hard work, being dedicated and being self-driven, because it’s all about what you do when no one is looking. This is a sport you take home with you. It really just develops hearty people…. I love this sport for what it does for the kids; for what it did for me. Accomplishments are great, but we’re really just breeding excellent, hard-working individuals. That’s why we do it. That’s why most coaches are in this business. That’s the most rewarding part of this sport. I love winning, I’m very competitive, but the long-term results of this sport are what I enjoy the most.

The following Big 7 athletes also qualified for and competed at the UIL State Wrestling Tournament:

La Joya Palmview High School:

Rodrigo Nuncio 126lbs (25-5): Fourth place alternate, place unknown

La Joya High School:  

Jesus Martinez 113lbs (30-11), Top 16 finish

Sharyland Pioneer High School:

Sebastian Contreras (31-3), place unknown

1 Comment

  1. Rachel Baker on February 23, 2024 at 9:55 am

    Thank you for this recognition for these 2 young men. They deserve it and more. Well done for the school year and on to next.

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