By Ron Warnick
QCS Senior Writer 

THS 6th at Rattler Invite


December 21, 2022

Ron Warnick

Tucumcari's Nick Romero tangles with Los Lunas' Andres Romero during the championship match of the 121-pound weight class Saturday at the Rattler Invite. The Tucumcari athlete took second, the Rattlers' highest finish at the 14-team event.

Nicholas Romero's second-place finish in the 121-pound weight class paced the Tucumcari boys wrestling team to a tie for sixth in the 14-team Rattler Invite tournament on Saturday.

In the Lady Rattler Invite on Friday, Tucumcari crowned two champions with MiKayla Klinger in the 152-165-pound weight class and Sarah Vallejo at 120-126. The Lady Rattlers also edged four other squads for the team title.

Romero, a freshman, notched three victories Saturday before being pinned in the second period by Las Lunas' Andres Romero in the title match.

Tucumcari coach Tim Clark said he was impressed with Romero, considering the circumstances.

"He was sick all week long, and the only day he showed up for practice was Thursday," Clark said. "He gave the kid from Los Lunas a good run for his money."

Fernando Ureste, at 114 pounds, finished third for Tucumcari. He lost in the semifinal to West Las Vegas' Cameron Padilla, then advanced through the consolation bracket to beat Hereford's Francisco Martinez in the third-place match.

"Both of them are freshmen," Clark said of Romero and Ureste. "Those kids have drive; they want to be here. They're going to do great things throughout their career."

Clark also praised Joshua Pacheco (145 pounds) and Antonio Gonzales (189 pounds), each who finished fourth for Tucumcari.

Clark said getting any sort of medal at the Rattler Invite wasn't easy.

"Today was really tough, tough," he said. "We had Amarillo (Tascosa), Dumas, Hereford ... Those guys usually are state placers in Texas in 5A. I was ecstatic with the quality the kids showed. They wrestled their hearts out."

Clark said the tournament also exposed weaknesses they'll work on during Christmas break.

"We need to work better at the bottom positions. We're not escaping. We're off balance. We had some missed opportunities," he said.

"At the top, we're still trying to muscle these kids. In a quality tournament like this, you can't muscle a kid that's equal to you. It's going to come down to who's the better tactician, who knows the moves better."

Amarillo Tascosa dominated the boys tournament with 230 points, well ahead of runner-up Los Lunas and its 164 points. Dumas and Hereford, both of Texas, finished third and fourth respectively. West Las Vegas finished fifth, and Tucumcari and Canyon West Plains of Texas tied for sixth with 74 points.

Other teams in the boys competition were Amarillo Palo Duro, Pampa, Taos, Borger, Pecos, Clovis and St. Michaels.

In the girls competition Friday, the Lady Rattlers earned 37 team points, edging runner-up West Las Vegas and its 34 points. Other teams at the girls event were Clovis, Borger and Bushland.

Klinger twice conquered Clovis' Sunnay Ward to earn an individual title in the 152-165 weight class. Vallejo pinned Clovis' Yocelyn Romero and West Las Vegas' Bella Rose Martinez in the 120-126 class. For the Lady Rattlers, Naomi Garcia was runner-up in the 138-145 weight class. Anasely Ureste (107-114) and Amaya Infante (126-132) each finished third.

"There was some tough competition for the girls and it got them some mat time," Clark said.

Clark also gave credit to volunteer assistant coaches Eric Rivera and former state wrestling champion Ryan Fought for working with his athletes.

"They're getting on the mat and working with the kids on things I can't do," Clark said. "I'm really ecstatic about that, and the kids are responding to them pretty well."


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