Rattlers finish first

Thomas Garcia

The Tucumcari Rattlers wrestling team captured a first-place finish, a high note on a stretch of three tournaments in seven days.

“We still need to step it up and push ourselves even more,” said junior Dillon Wood.

Following Saturday’s first-place win at the Pecos invitational tournament, the Rattlers were back in the gym working on their conditioning through a series of grueling exercises.

“You know it’s worth it,” Rattlers head coach Eddie Encinias said to his team. “You younger guys will see just how much this hard work is going to pay off come district.”

Encinias said the team’s dedication has always been high, though at this point in the season they are pushing themselves even harder.

“It’s a great feeling to see these guys want to push themselves without me having to get on them,” Encinias said. “They are a special group of kids willing to do the work to get better and compete for the win.”

Encinias said the team was missing some key weight classes at the Pecos tournament. He said the team was 20 points behind West Las Vegas as they went into the finals.

“They stepped it up and did what was needed to get the win,” Encinias said.

Rattlers’ junior Trenton Ward was able to upset a former 120-pound state champion, Matthew Torres of Pecos, in the finals.

“It was a great feeling,” Ward said. “I was beat by Torres at the St. Michael’s tournament.”

Ward said he was determined to win against Torres and knew it would take his all to earn the win.

Encinias said it’s determination like Ward’s that helped them place fourth overall on Jan 6. at Saint Michael’s.

“Chris Apodaca won that tournament in the 145-pound class,” Encinias said. “He continues to show us how strong of a wrestler and leader he has become.”

Six Rattlers placed first on Thursday at the Amarillo High pool tournament in Amarillo.

Wood said the team’s success is short-lived as they know come Monday it’s right back to working on conditioning.

“Where we are at now is a good point,” Wood said, “though there is still a lot of room for improvement.”

Encinias said the Rattlers will compete on Saturday at the Ruidoso tournament. He said he is excited to compete against some of the teams from the south part of the state.

“It’s going to be a good tournament,” Encinias said. “We should see several Las Cruces schools.”