B y Thomas Garcia
Quay County Sun
The Tucumcari Rattlers wrestling team placed second in the district 2-3A competition Saturday at West Las Vegas.
“This will be a district tournament I will remember for a long time to come,” said Rattlers head coach Eddie Encinias.
Augustin Sandoval (152) and Trenton Ward (112) won district championships in their respective weight classes. The rest of the Rattler teams finished fourth or better.
“I pinned both of the 112-pound wrestlers I faced at district,” Ward said. “We need to keep working on our techniques for state.”
Encinias said the team’s stability was shaken when three wrestlers quit the program, leaving the remaining Rattlers to pick up the slack.
“This team has stepped up so much through the season,” Encinias said. “They overcame losing those three wrestlers in the middle of the season.”
Encinias said the team went into the district match-up, missing a heavy weight, which meant losing up to 30 points through the tournament.
“Those points we lost for not having a wrestler in that class can hurt a team,” Encinias said. “West Las Vegas, who finished third overall, was poised to steal second place from us.”
Encinias said Chris Apodaca (135) had to face the Dons’ 135-pound William Lopez, who had recently moved back up to that weight class.
“They moved him up thinking they could beat Chris,” Encinias said. “Lopez had beat Chris before but this time Chris was not having it. He told me not this time coach, last time I made mistakes and it cost me the match.”
Apodaca defeated Lopez helping the Rattlers secure the second spot.
The Rattlers have little time to savor the victory as this weekend they will compete in the state wrestling tournament at Rio Rancho.
“If these guys wrestled like they did at district, then we will have a strong chance of contending for a trophy,” Garcia said.
Encinias said continued strong leadership from Esteban Martinez, Patrick Wiegel and Matt Pacheco will be crucial at the state tournament.
“I am going to go in there and wrestle everyone I face as if they were the best in the state,” Pacheco said.
The Rattlers will compete Friday and Saturday at Rio Rancho.