By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
The Tucumcari Rattlers closed out their regular season and district competition with a 220-pound district championship by Antonio Norton Jr. and qualifying 11 of 12 wrestlers for the state tournament.
“Norton was a beast and he went the distance to win the district championship,” said Eddie Encinias, Rattlers head coach.
“This is my first district championship and I feel its the first step towards a state championship,” Norton said.
Norton said he intends to push himself even further at state. He said he reached a new level and that only by continuing to push himself will he be ready for state.
Encinias said the Rattlers proved themselves at the district competition held on Saturday at Robertson High School in Las Vegas. He said of the 11 state qualifiers, seven placed in the top three, and five won a spot by wildcard (best record for their weight class).
“Don’t let the wild card designation fool you,” Encinias said. “These guys earned their way to state.”
Encinias said this year the wrestlers were put through a tough test in the second half of the season. He said they competed in six events in two weeks. This gave the wrestlers much needed mat time with extra matches, that helped five Rattlers make the state tournament, Encinias added.
“We just have to be ready to give everything we have to win and if given an opportunity, take it,” said Xavier Garcia, 160-pound wrestler.
Garcia said his weight class has a lot of strong wrestlers competing for the state title. He said all he or his team mates can do is battle through every match and finish strong.
District placing and State qualifiers:
W. Ricky Montano, 106 pounds
3. Tony Lopez, 113 pounds
3. Rod Dunlap, 120 pounds
3. Joseph Martinez, 126 pounds
2. Jonathan Clark, 132 pounds
3. Elias Ortiz, 138 pounds
W. Zach Martinez, 182 pounds
3. Xavier Garcia, 160 pounds
2. Kaleb Hayes, 182 pounds
1. Antonio Norton Jr., 220 pounds
W. Isaiah Valverde, 285 pounds
W indicates wildcard