By William Thompson: Quay County Sun
The Tucumcari High School wrestling team went to Albuquerque last weekend for the Class 3A state tournament. Brian Lopez, Justin Garcia and Michael Baca each placed in the top six of their respective weight classes.
Lopez lost his final match 3-1 on Saturday to finish second in the state. Coach Eddie Encinias said the sophomore’s hard work and dedication have paid off.
“Last year he didn’t place at all at state,” Encinias said, “and this year he was almost state champ. This is the kind of improvement our young wrestlers can expect if they work hard.”
Justin Garcia finished fourth in the heavyweight division. Baca finished sixth in his weight class.
“First-year wrestler Michael Fazekas went three periods with the eventual state champion and Ben Arenas and Matt Garcia each won a match,” Encinias said.
A capacity crowd at University of New Mexico’s Johnson Gym cheered on wrestlers Saturday. Encinias said the large crowd opened some of the Tucumcari wrestlers’ eyes.
“Some of our younger guys were saying they didn’t realize how big wrestling was in New Mexico,” Encinias said. “They found out. It will make them want to get back to the state tournament and do well next year.”
Lopez, just a sophomore, said he looks forward to wrestling two more years.
“I’m happy to finish second, but I’m disappointed in not finishing first,” Lopez said.