Young wrestlers come up big at state meet

By Kevin Wilson: Quay County Sun

The future looks bright for the Tucumcari wrestling team, but the present’s not that bad either.

Tucumcari had two wrestlers earn runner-up finishes, and had seven medalists en route to a seventh-place finish in the Class 1-3A state tournament, held Friday and Saturday in Albuquerque.

Brian Lopez, a junior who finished as a runner-up for the second-straight year, said the team’s performance was a pleasant surprise.

“I felt that as a team we did good,” Lopez said. “We had some young guys that really stepped up, like Jacob Ramirez. Some young guys stepped up and that helped us a lot.”

The Rattlers finished the tournament with 109.5 points, just a half-point off of sixth-place Shiprock and 39.5 points ahead of Wingate. Las Vegas Robertson had six wrestlers come away with state championships and easily outpointed Cobre (253.5 to 207.5) for the team title.

“The majority of our guys did a great job,” Tucumcari coach Eddie Encinias said. “There haven’t been seven medalists at this school in years.”

A player becomes a medalist with a finish in the final six of one of the 14 respective weight classes. Ramirez, a freshman, became one of those medalists with his runner-up finish in the 112-pound weight class.

“I think having this experience will be motivation for what I need to work on for next year,” Ramirez said.

Other Rattler medalists were Raymond Jimenez, Tramae Skinner, Ryan Fought, Fernando Ureste and Matthew Garcia. Ureste and Skinner are the team’s only seniors.

Though he was happy with the team performance, Lopez was quick to admit he was less than thrilled to finish as a state runner-up again. Sam Trujillo pulled a reverse and pinned Lopez for his fourth state championship.

“I’m disappointed,” Lopez said. “I reached a little too far and I got rolled.”

Encinias thought Lopez had pinned Truijillo earlier in the match, but admitted that the referee was in a much different position than he was. Encinias hopes Lopez is in a similar position next year, except that he’ll finish with the victory.

“I hope he tears everybody up (next year),” Encinias said. “It’s not because he deserves it, but he’s worked for it and there’s no doubt in my mind he’ll be a champion.

Lopez, who finished 27-3 on the season, wasn’t one to disagree.

“I’ll win next year,” Lopez said. “I’ll get bigger and stronger, faster — just get better.”

Encinias said the year wouldn’t have been nearly as successful without the help of his assistants, Donnie Garcia and Daniel Lopez.