With most of the varsity sidelined because of sickness, the young bucks of the Tucumcari High School Rattlers wrestling team endured and shined on Friday at the Cardinal Classic tournament in Las Vegas.
“The Cardinal Classic at Robertson High School is one of the toughest tournaments of the year and our young Rattlers gave it their all to represent us well,” said Eddie Encinias, Rattlers head coach.
Encinias said eighth-grader Joseph Martinez continues to improve and impress at 126 pounds, registering a 4-1 mark at the Cardinal Classic.
“Martinez is having a great year,” Encinias said. “He has thanked me for giving him the chance to wrestle on varsity. I told him that I didn’t give him anything; he earned his spot on the team.”
Encinias said Martinez and 138-pound sophomore Elias Ortiz advanced to the Gold Bracket in the tournament. He said in order to compete in that bracket they had to outperform 16 other wrestlers.
Encinias said freshman 120-pounder Rod Dunlap, who recently recovered from a dislocated shoulder and Kaleb Hayes, 182 pounds, had strong performances and competed in the Silver Bracket.
Encinias said the Rattlers next challenge will be to get everyone healthy for the District Duals Thursday at Robertson. He said the team will face off against Robertson and Taos in their last matches before the open district competition on Feb. 13 at Las Vegas.
“It seems like the season has gone by so quick,” Encinias said. “These guys have made me so proud. I turned it up on them this season and they meet and overcame the challenges.”