QCS Senior Writer
The Tucumcari Rattlers placed third overall, clinched two individual district championships and qualified all 11 wrestlers for 3A state competition in a strong performance at the District 2 tournament Saturday at the Snake Pit.
“I’m not sure when the last time was, if ever, that we qualified everyone who competed in district for state competition,” said Eddie Encinias, Rattlers head coach.
“Each year the guys push themselves and I don’t like leaving wrestlers at home,” he said. “Even though they all qualified, the team knows it’s time to go all out and that when it comes to state, anyone can win.”
Rattlers wrestlers Joseph Otero (145 pounds) and Timmy Skinner (138 pounds) each won their weight class district championships.
Otero said he was pleased with his performance. He said for the most part, his season has gone the way he has wanted but that the competition at state is going to test him.
“Personally, I want to wrestle the guy I lost to from Silver City,” Otero said. “I had some injuries and want a chance to face him when I’m at my best.”
Otero said as much as he wants to focus on his personal goals, as team captain he will work with the entire team to help them prepare for state.
Instead of only one wrestler entering the state tournament confident, he said, “Our entire team will have a championship mindset.”
The Rattlers finished third in team standings with 106 points; they followed first-place Taos (193 points) and second-place Robertson (184 points).
Robert Valencia, Taos Tigers head coach, said, “Our team had a great performance. There were some losses we didn’t count on but we also were surprised by some wins as well.”
The Tigers qualified 14 wrestlers for state, a number that Valencia said has made him extremely proud of all the work his team has put in this year.
Richard Martinez, Robertson Cardinals head coach, said, “We lost the district title by nine points, but overall it was a good tournament and we qualified 14 wrestlers.”
Martinez said his team will be ready for state competition, and he is hoping to finish in the top three. There will be some stout competition from Cobre, who is always tough to beat, he said.
The state wrestling tournament is Friday and Saturday at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.