The Tucumcari Rattlers wrestling team ends its season with four of 11 state competitors placing fifth at the 3-4A state wrestling tournament Friday and Saturday at Rio Rancho.
“These wrestlers may have been young, but their hearts were big,” said Eddie Encinias, head wrestling coach.
Encinias said this year’s team was easily the youngest group of varsity wrestlers he has mentored as head coach. He said their youthfulness aside, these wrestlers showed a tremendous amount of passion and guts in a season that holds great things for the future.
Placing fifth for the Rattlers at state were Rod Dunlap, 120 pounds; Elias Ortiz, 138 pounds; Antonio Norton Jr. 220 pounds; and Isaiah Valverde, 285 pounds.
Encinias said the young Rattlers were doing amazing things this year each of them doubling if not tripling their wins from the previous year. He said freshman Ricky Montano won two matches in 2015 and this year he won nine matches, while sophomore Antonio Lopez went from a three-win to a six-win season.
Encinias said eighth grader Joseph Martinez had an outstanding first year with a record of 18 wins and 10 losses. He said Martinez has already shown a great amount of talent and dedication and it will be exciting to see him wrestle in the years to come. Freshman Kaleb Hayes, at 182 pounds, won eight matches in his first year as a wrestler, that is a feat in itself, Encinias added.
Encinias said all around the young Rattlers have proven they will be a force to be reckoned with next year. He said Norton Jr., junior, Dunlap, freshman, Valverde, sophomore, Jonathan Clark, freshman and Xavier Garcia, sophomore all had season that have him excited.
Encinias said in June, the Rattlers will attend wrestling camps aimed at exposing the young wrestlers to a variety of coaching and wrestling styles.