By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
The Tucumcari Rattlers Wrestling team hosted its annual tournament Saturday at the Snake Pit, giving the Rattlers and several New Mexico and Texas teams much-needed mat time before the Christmas break.
“It is so amazing to see the stands filled with our supporters and the supporters of these teams from across the state and Texas,” said Eddie Encinias, Rattlers head coach.
Encinias said each year he and the Rattler wrestlers look forward to the high level of competition they will face during the home-based tournament.
This year’s tournament included teams from 4A powerhouse Los Lunas, 3A Saint Michael’s of Santa Fe, as well as Tascosa and Amarillo high schools in Amarillo, Texas.
Encinias said the tournament gives every weight class a chance to get onto the mat and see what they need to work on as the break approaches, knowing that January and February make up the toughest part of the season.
“This tournament is going to work for us in so many ways, any quality time you can spend on the mat is a positive,” said Fletcher Sievers, head coach of the St. Michael’s Horsemen.
Sievers said the Horsemen are still setting up their roster for the season. He said this tournament pits his wrestlers against some stout competition that lets him see how well wrestlers fit in their current weight classes.
Sievers said the tournament also lets his teams and coaches see different techniques used by different teams, especially the Texas squads.
One of those Texas teams is the 5A Tascosa Rebels, of Amarillo, which is trying to fill vacant roster spots while keeping its wrestlers sharp.
“We have four varsity wrestlers who are hurt and we need to see what steps we need to take to fill those gaps,” said Joe Stafford, Rebels head coach.
At the Rattlers tournament, he said, the varsity wrestlers sharpen their skills, but he also brought some junior varsity wrestlers who might fill some of those vacant varsity spots.
Stafford said some of the injured varsity wrestlers may yet return this season, maybe in time for district competition. In the meantime, he said, the Rattlers tournament will help him see which junior varsity wrestlers could fill in.
Next week, the Quay County Sun will run home-team results from the tournament along with comments from team members and coaches.