Wrestling might not be a team sport in the most traditional sense of the word, but as the boys’ events in the Region I-5A meet at West Texas A&M University wound down Saturday afternoon, there was certainly some counting of the points by a pair of area teams.
Entering the finals, Dumas and Randall were neck and neck in the points standings, with both teams scoring as the meet remained tight. It was no surprise that in the very end, a winner barely emerged.
By a margin of four points, Dumas won the boys competition with 181 points, a mere four points ahead of fellow District 3-5A rival Randall. The title wasn’t decided until Carlos Magallanes of Dumas defeated Caprock’s Zyair Gonzales 7-0 in the 106-pound finals in the last championship match of the day.
As close as the meet was, it was only fitting that it came down to the very end to determine victory.
“Randall’s always extremely tough as a team,” Dumas coach Chris Holzworth said. “They work extremely hard, and we’ve battled with them all year. I really didn’t pay close attention to the team scores until the very end just to see what the finals were like. With Randall, Tascosa and Caprock there’s a handful of Panhandle teams who are always in there.”
The team title also had personal implications for Holzworth, who took over the Dumas boys team this year after coaching the girls last year, which he’s doing again this year. Holzworth led the Dumas girls to the region title last season.
This year, four Dumas boys won individual region titles and qualified a total of seven wrestlers for the state meet, which takes the top four finishers in each weight class in each region starting next Friday in Cypress.
Magallanes was the last of the four winners for Dumas. Perhaps the most dramatic win came from a wrestler who had an easy time of it up to that point.
Bronson Baxter, who entered the meet undefeated at 157 pounds, pinned his first three opponents before facing Tascosa’s Noah Santiago in the finals. It was a tight match, as Baxter took an early lead before Santiago rallied to tie it with under 30 seconds left in the third period.
Baxter, though, scored two quick points with a takedown and went on to a 9-7 win to stay undefeated on the season at 38-0 and was named the meet’s outstanding boys wrestler.
“There are some things I’ve still got to work on and it’s never perfect,” Baxter said. “I got the job done and won the weekend and that’s all that matters. We train hours a day and I don’t feel like anybody can take me down more than I can take them down. I took (Santiago) down three times in the match and it was just one more takedown. Thirty seconds at the end of practice and 30 seconds at the end of the match, it all correlates.”
The other individual winners for Dumas were two-time state champion Hunter Bogner at 132 pounds and Alberto Sanchez at 190.
As a coach, Holzworth has pulled off the rare double of coaching both boys and girls region championship teams. He finds the two titles equally rewarding.
“It’s nice,” Holzworth said. “I don’t think we’ve done anything differently. We just keep putting the X’s and O’s together. It’s not really different from anybody else. You grind on Monday and try to finish out and perform on Saturday.”
On the girls’ side, Lubbock-Cooper easily won the team title with 219 points. Dumas also had the best local team score there with 125 points, good for third place.
In addition to Baxter, three other area wrestlers stayed undefeated on the season at the region match, living up to their number one seeds, with two girls and one boy staying unbeaten.
On the girls side, the biggest and smallest competitors in the final both remained perfect. Borger’s Ariana Chavez was the first girl of the day to win a region title at 235 while Tascosa’s Zurri Zamora was the last region titles at 100 pounds.
Chavez won a tightly contested championship match with Cooper’s Kayla McLearen, grinding out a 3-1 victory to keep her record spotless at 40-0.
“I did moves that I never thought I could do,” Chavez said. “I was really gassed and I need to work on that. I really don’t feel any pressure. I wrestle like I’m not seeded at all. I’m happy because no one’s won regionals at Borger and I worked really hard to get it.”
Zamora improved to 34-0 but maintained her perfect record in different fashion in the finals. She entered with three victories via pin and got a fourth by pinning Lubbock High’s Karisma Ramos at 4:53 for the region championship.
It was a fairly typical performance for Zamora, who got through a scoreless first period before taking over in the second period and building a 9-1 lead over Ramos before pinning her in the third period.
“I rolled into the tournament, I kicked some butt and got four pins and that’s expected,” Zamora said. “I know that if in the first couple of periods I don’t do so good that in the third period if I just keep wrestling that I’ll be fine. A 9-1 lead always feels pretty good. I don’t feel too much pressure going into state, I just know if I wrestle to my abilities, I’ll be fine.”
For the boys, Randall’s Mikey Ruiz improved to 37-0 by winning the 113 class. Ruiz pinned Caprock’s Gavin Alvarado at the 2:21 mark.
Texas Panhandle boys dominates with 12 winners
It was an especially strong day for the area’s boys wrestlers in terms of standing atop the medal podium. A total of 12 Panhandle boys won gold medals, winning all but two weight classes.
Randall and Tascosa both had three individual boys’ champions. In addition to Mikey Ruiz, Nathaniel Ruiz (138) and Jaden Valdez (144) both won gold for Randall. Landin Lamberth (150), Jaxon Johnson (215) and Isaiah Ortiz (285) all won gold for Tascosa.
Other local winners included Caprock’s Zalantrice Seale (120) and Hereford’s Azariah Martinez (165).
Randall had two girls’ winners in Morgan Green (145) and Emma Heaton (165). Hereford’s Mareetza Maceda won at 185.