Serving the High Plains

THS girl wrestlers qualify for state

Two Tucumcari High School girls wrestlers qualified for the state tournament — including one who medaled — during Saturday’s Region 2 tournament at Del Norte in Albuquerque.

MiKayla Klinger (11-9), a sophomore at the 152-pound weight class, won three matches at the sprawling 30-team event and lost only to Makenzie Kormendy of Goddard by a 3-0 decision in the finals.

Klinger didn’t go home empty-handed; she earned a second-place medal for her efforts.

“She had a great day, even in the championship round,” Tucumcari coach Tim Clark said. “It was a hard-fought battle all the way to the end. It was a one-move difference. The other girl got a takedown and an escape.

“MiKayla tried everything in her power to roll the kid over — that would have a reversal — and get her on her back. That would have been a five-point move and could have won.”

Clark said the loss could pay Klinger future dividends at the state tournament.

“A loss, in my opinion, just makes you a better wrestler,” he said. “You get too cocky if you’re always winning. A loss builds fire going into state. I told MiKayla: ‘It was close. I think we can work with that.’”

Clark said the regional saw five injury-related forfeits, including the No. 1 seed, in Klinger’s weight class.

“It’s probably going to be a wide-open tournament,” he said.

Sarah Vallejo (19-5), a junior at 114 pounds, of the Lady Rattlers went 4-3 at the tournament and finished fourth. After a loss in the early rounds, Vallejo advanced through the consolation bracket and lost by fall in the third-place match to Sonja Owen-Baca of Highland.

“Sarah did great,” Clark said. “She started out the tournament with a pin, then lost a close match. But she went out with the next three matches and battled to get to the consolation finals.”

Clark said Vallejo injured her shoulder during the consolation final. He said a doctor later examined the shoulder and saw no serious damage. Clark said he was optimistic she would sufficiently recover during the two-week break before the state tourney.

Tucumcari’s Amaya Infante, competing at 132 pounds, went 2-2 at the regional and failed to qualify for the state tourney.

The top seven finishers in each weight class, plus a couple of wildcards, advanced to state.

Goddard won the regional team title with 170.5 points, and Las Cruces was second with 122 points.

The state championship tournament will be Feb. 17-18 at the Rio Rancho Events Center in Rio Rancho.