QCS Senior Writer
The Tucumcari Rattlers wrestling team has added the middle school program to its roster, bringing the number of participants to an all time high.
“I’m always excited to start a new season, though the addition of the middle school program has me really pumped,” said Eddie Encinias, Rattlers head coach.
Encinias said the Rattlers have 51 wrestlers this year and while 21 are currently in the varsity program, the rest are very eager middle schoolers. He said the middle school students showed very high interest when the program was announced.
Encinias said the assistance of middle school coach Tim Clark will spark interest in the program early and help the younger students develop into great athletes. The younger kids will enter the varsity program with an established understanding of the commitment and conditioning needed to become state champions, he said.
Encinias said the Rattlers’ leadership will come from returning state qualifiers Joseph Otero, Timmy Skinner and state runner-up Bryson Billings.
Billings said he has yet to wrestle but is looking forward to the competition he will see in the heavyweight class. He said even though last years champion graduated, he will not be looking past anybody as he pursues the gold.
Skinner said he working harder as he looks to finish better than last years fourth place in the 138-pound class at the state tournament. He said it’s going to take hard work and dedication by everyone to reach their full potential.
Otero said he also has high aspirations for the state tournament this year, but he and his fellow teammates are focusing on taking it one match at a time.
“There is still so much more we need to improve on,” he said. “It’s just the beginning of the season.”
Otero said the team is in better condition than in previous years but they are not yet where they need to be come district and state competition. He said he is looking forward wrestling last years 138-pound class state champion Isaiah Anaya from Capital High School.
Encinias said, “the guys know that they are in control of whether they become state champions. They are responsible for their own conditioning and development to reach that level.”
Encinias said the team recently competed in a wrestling tournament in Amarillo, where they faced stout competition from Texas and Kansas. He said among them were the state champions from Randall, Tascosa, Pampa and Garden City high schools on the Texas side.
On Friday the Rattlers will travel to Albuquerque to take part in a wrestling tri-match with Foothill and Wingate High schools.