Serving the High Plains

Eight qualify for state wrestling tourney

Eight members of the Tucumcari High School boys wrestling team qualified for this weekend's state tournament.

Five Rattlers initially made the cut Saturday during the two-day, 19-team Region 2-4A Championships at Socorro.

The top seven from each weight class earned an automatic berth. Tucumcari's five initial qualifiers:

- Fernando Ureste (31-7), who finished a team-best third in the 114-pound weight class and went 4-1 on the day. His only loss was a 7-0 decision to Silver's Kade Aguirre in the semifinals.

- Xzander Garcia (27-11), defending state champion, finished fourth in the 172-pound class and went 3-2 during the regional.

- Josh Pacheco (29-11) finished fifth in the 145-pound division and went 4-2 on the day.

- Dezmon Pacheco (20-13) also finished fifth in the 127-pound class and went 3-2 on the day.

- Antonio Gonzales (27-12) finished sixth in the 189-pound division and went 3-3 on Saturday.

On Sunday, Tucumcari coach Tim Clark said he learned of three more wildcards from the Rattlers program who qualified for state: Josiah Sanchez at 139 pounds, Aden Otero at 152 and Creed Owen at 160.

"I'm ecstatic we have eight boys going to state," Clark said, "especially considering this new alignment. We're out there with the big boys."

Clark said his team was "doing what they need to do" during the first day of the regional Friday but became somewhat downtrodden after facing stout athletes from wrestling powerhouses such as Belen, Silver and Deming.

He said assistant coach Dennis Garcia helped reset his wrestlers.

"He said, 'This is your battlefield. You've trained all year along, and you need to fight,'" Clark recalled. "And they did that."

Two Lady Rattlers qualified for the state meet during the previous week: 152-pounder MiKayla Klinger and 114-pounder Sarah Vallejo.

All the THS qualifiers will compete Friday and possibly Saturday at the state championships at the Rio Rancho Events Center.

Other Rattlers who competed at the boys regional meet but failed to qualify were JT Turpin (107 pounds), Josh Hyslop (133) and Isaiah Ureste (215).

Tucumcari finished seventh in the team standings Saturday with 88 points. Belen won the regional team title with 240 1/2 points, edging runner-up Silver and its 226 1/2 points. Socorro finished third with 139 1/2 points.