Wrestling team returns six

Thomas Garcia

A strong leadership core and a lot of new youth on the team is going to make Rattlers wrestling exciting this year, said head coach Eddie Encinias.

“We already tested ourselves at a tournament at Dumas, Texas,” Encinias said.

Encinias said the team used that tournament as a scrimmage to start the season.

“ I have six returning Rattlers. Of them, my two captains Esteban Martinez and Chris Apodaca… had strong performances at Dumas,” Encinias said.

The teams conditioning is coming along nicely but much more is needed, said Martinez.

“There are a lot of young people on the team this year,” Martinez said. “They ask if we always work this hard during the season. I tell them it’s just beginning.”

Encinias said the team is working hard and pushing to prepare for the Los Lunas duels tournament on Saturday.

“It’s always tough competition with mostly 4A and 5A schools,” Encinias said. “This is a very disciplined group and thrive on tough competition.”

Los Lunas gives everyone a chance to see where they are at as the season begins,” said Apodaca.

“We are in good shape going in to this tournament,” Apodaca said. “I look forward to the competition.”

Encinias said several new faces are joining the team this year. He said he has a strong junior varsity program.

“These kids are getting out here and giving their all,” Encinias said. “They are willing to do all that we ask of them.”

One of the new junior varsity Rattlers is eighth grader Nina Hatfield. Encinias said she has been working out well with the team who treat her as just one of the guys.

“We aren’t treating her any differently and practicing as usual,” Martinez said. “There is no difference in how the team operates.”

Assistant coach Donnie Garcia said Hatfield’s work ethic through the first two weeks has impressed him.

“She’s here every day working out and improving as she goes,” Garcia said.

Hatfield said her decision to join the wrestling team was prompted by her love of a challenge.

“It something difficult, not something you can just come in and start doing right away,” Hatfield said. “To be honest it has been a lot more difficult than I originally thought. Though as the weeks have progressed it has become enjoyable.”

Encinias said the team is right on track, the conditioning is going well and weight management is under way.

The junior varsity Rattlers traveled to Robertson to compete in a tournament on Tuesday.

Rattlers varsity Wrestling will compete at 8 a.m., Saturday at Los Lunas.