QCS Senior Writer
The Tucumcari Rattler wrestling team is hitting its stride as it prepares for its fifth event in two weeks this Friday at the Cardinal Classic at Robertson High School in Las Vegas.
The past two weeks have been a real challenge for the wrestlers as they have competed in 12 more matches than they did last year at this time, said Eddie Encinias, Rattler head coach.
Encinias said the Rattlers placed first Jan. 20 at Pecos, defeating Pecos, West Las Vegas and Tierra Encantada. He said the young Rattlers, such as 128-pound eighth grader Joseph Martinez and 160-pound sophomore Xavier Garcia continue to compete at a high level.
“I feel that the team is beginning to turn the corner and we are close to where we need to be for district,” Encinias said.
Encinias added that the team traveled to Trinidad, Colorado, for a competition and placed 10th out of 21 schools.
“The big guys had an incredible showing in Trinidad,” Encinias said. “They went in and made a statement.”
Sophomore Isaiah Valverde, won the 285-pound division and junior Antonio Norton Jr., placed third in the 220-pound division.
“Competing in all of these matches the past two weeks has motivated me to be better,” Valverde said.
Norton said he lost focus in his semifinal match — and lost the match as a result. Norton said he should not have allowed himself to lose focus and these past two weeks have allowed him to see where he needs to improve.
Encinias said the team survived the intense competition and came out of it stronger and better prepared for district.
“There is no reason we can’t qualify everyone at district,” Encinias said.
Game time: 11 a.m., Friday at Las Vegas