Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By Thomas Garcia
Senior writer 

Rattlers wrestling marks end of season

The team finished fifth overall at 4A state tournament.


February 22, 2017

Courtesy Photo: Dennis Garcia

he 2016 4A Tucumcari Rattlers state wrestling placers, top Michael Shelton, Antonio Norton Jr. Bottom: Isaiah Valverde, Coach Eddie Encinias and Xavier Garcia.

The Tucumcari Rattlers wrestling team finished fifth overall with four placers at the 4A state tournament last weekend at Rio Rancho.

"The team peaked at the right time," said Eddie Encinias, head coach. "I could not have asked for a better group of athletes."

On Monday, Encinias was marking off the equipment as the Rattler wrestlers turned it in marking the end of their season.

"It would have been better if I could have finished first," said Antonio Norton Jr., a 220-pound senior.

Norton was the 220-pound 4A state runner-up, his highest state placing.

"Overall, I am happy with how my final year turned out," Norton said.

None of us could have gone as far if it wasn't for our teammates pushing us all season, said Michael Shelton, a 160-pound senior.

Shelton placed third at the state tournament.

"It feels good to go out with a win," Shelton said. "It was great to wrestle with Antonio and Xavier Garcia."

Garcia, a junior, placed third in the 170-pound weight class.

Garcia said the team is going to miss the senior duo next year. He said the loss of two skilled wrestlers will mean the Rattlers will need to adjust the weight classes.

"I'm already thinking about next year," Garcia said. "I'm not satisfied with third place. I got a taste of the level of competition at the state tournament. Now I want to win a championship."

Another wrestler who is not satisfied with his performance at state is Isaiah Valverde, a 285-pound junior, who placed fourth.

"I did not do as well as I should have," Valverde said.

Encinias said the dedication and work the wrestlers put in this year has him excited about next season.

"All of their accomplishments and accolades are the sum of their commitment," Encinias said. "I don't do anything but open the doors."

Encinias said all 14 wrestlers qualified for state and while not all of them placed they did the Rattlers program proud.

Among those wrestlers is freshman A'leyah Lucero.

Lucero is not the first lady wrestler in program history, but she is the first to compete at the state tournament for the Rattlers.

"At the start of the season we were so far ahead of any team that I've coached," Vale said. "This may have been one of the best group of athletes that I have coached."


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