By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
The Tucumcari Middle School wrestling program has coaches excited about the future of the program following Saturday’s successful tournament at the Snake Pit.
The single-day middle school tournament drew more than 10 schools from Texas and from across New Mexico, said Tim Clark, middle school wrestling coach.
The middle-school Rattlers placed three in their home tournament: 1 — Joseph Martinez, 4 — Julian Vargas and Devon Apodaca.
“The tournament was a lot of fun and I got to see a lot of good wrestlers,” Martinez said.
“This tournament gave our wrestlers a chance to compete against a lot of talented wrestlers and see some new styles and techniques,” said David Wylie, head coach at Dumas Middle School in Dumas, Texas.
Wylie said his team usually competes against the same wrestlers throughout the year and Tucumcari’s tournament gives them a chance at seeing and learning something new.
“The team did well in the tournament and they showed a lot of improvement for their third tournament of the year,” said Donnie Garcia, Tucumcari Middle School wrestling coach.
Garcia said the returning Rattlers and first-year wrestlers did will against tough competition. He said there is still work that needs to be done on technique but that will come as the season progresses.
Clark said the program has been gaining popularity since its start three years ago. He said the program has gone from four members and two tournaments annually to 27 members and eight tournaments this year. This includes two female wrestlers, Clark added.
“The program is appealing to everyone,” Clark said. “The kids have shown a lot of enthusiasm and dedication to the sport.”
Clark said the returning wrestlers are helping those new to the program to learn and progress at the sport.
“I have received a lot of help from the experienced wrestlers,” said A’Leaya Lucero, an eighth-grader on the Tucumcari Middle School team.
Lucero said she joined the program after attending the home tournament last year at the Snake Pit.
“I was just there for a friend,” Lucero said. “As I watched the wrestling matches I became interested in the sport and thought it would be something I would enjoy.”
Rattlers varsity wrestling coach Eddie Encinias said the growth of the middle school program is exciting for the future of both programs.
“We’ve always had a dedicated group of wrestlers that compete year after year,” Encinias said. “The middle schools success is adding to that by sparking the interest of the youth to try wrestling even if they have never done it before.”
Encinias said the varsity program is preparing for the Randall Duals on Dec. 4, at Randall High School in Amarillo, Texas. He said the duals provides a great “gut check” to start off the season.
Encinias said the Rattlers expect to see tough schools from Texas and Oklahoma. He said the tough competition is a great measuring stick to see where the wrestlers are early in the season.
Clark said the middle school wrestlers’ next tournament is on Dec. 4 at Dumas.