The Tucumcari High Rattlers wrestling team finished the season with 11 members competing in the 3A state tournament, and a group of promising young wrestlers are expected to return next year.
In the state tourney, Senior Joseph Otero was the only Rattler wrestler to medal, placing third in the 145-pound division.
Rattlers head wrestling coach Eddie Encinias said Otero and senior Timmy Skinner each lost a match in the semi-finals round by one point.
Encinias said Rattlers did not place as many wrestlers as he thought they would, but they represented the program well at the state tournament. Underclassmen gave a great effort at the state tournament, he said, and gained valuable experience in competition at that level.
“Seven freshmen, a sophomore and a junior — our team was young, but they showed me they have the drive and desire to be state contenders,” Encinias said. “The team’s success has little to do with my coaching. Their work ethic and dedication is key to their success and makes coaching a team like this so easy.”
Encinias said he hopes the young Rattlers carry that strong work ethic over to next year. As the underclassmen step up into leadership roles, he said, there is a group of talented young middle school wrestlers ready to enter the program.
The Rattlers added a middle school program at the beginning of the year, and 25 students signed up for the program. They were coached by Tim Clark and competed in seven tournaments this season.
Encinias said it is exciting to think how Tucumcari High’s program is going to benefit from these middle school wrestlers who will enter the program already possessing an understanding of wrestling fundamentals. That will give the Rattler’s wrestling program a tremendous advantage they have not had in the past, Encinias said.
New team members used to spend the first three weeks learning the basics of wrestling, Encinias said. With those skills already in place, he said, next year’s new team members will move right into working on techniques and conditioning.