It was a strong weekend for the Texas Panhandle schools at the Class 5A state wrestling meet in Cypress, but overall, none made the trip home happier than the Tascosa boys team.
In a close competition, Tascosa claimed the boys team championship Saturday evening with 112 points. That edged out second-place Lucas Lovejoy by three points, while another local power, Randall, was third with 106.50 points.
It was a rewarding week for Tascosa coach Joe Stafford, who in his 15th year at Tascosa finally won his first team state championship.
“It’s starting to sink in,” Stafford said in a phone interview on the way back from Cypress on Sunday afternoon. “It was a nailbiter. Any one of the four teams in the last session could have won it. It was exciting and it worked out in out favor. I was proud of our kids performance and the way they stuck with it.”
The biggest lesson which could be taken from the boys meet was just how strong wrestling is in the Panhandle. Three of the top four teams in the points standings were from the area, as Dumas was fourth with 106 points, .50 points behind Randall.
Tascosa won despite having only one individual champion, Andres Suarez in the 165-pound class. Suarez pinned Efren Arizmendez Jr. of Comal Smithson Valley at 5:06, a victory Tascosa needed to win state.
“If you asked any of those other coaches if they felt like they were contenders they all would say yes” Stafford said. “Any other day, it could have been different. Andres Suarez was the one it came down to and he beat a kid who pinned him earlier in the season.”
Tascosa was strong in the middle weight classes. Two other wrestlers joined Suarez in the finals and had runner-up finishes, with Noah Santiago (144) and Landin Lamberth (157) both winning silver medals.
Santiago’s loss came in an all-Panhandle final, as he lost to Caprock’s Richard Davila 6-3.
There were three other boys gold medalists from the area, and they all beat fellow Panhandle wrestlers as well to top the podium.
Dumas was the only local school with two gold medalists, as Hunter Bogner defended his title at 126 by pinning Randall’s Ashton Bennert in 1:25. The other win for Dumas came at 150, where Bronson Baxter edged Caprock’s Caleb Juarez in a 5-4 decision.
Randall’s lone win came at the beginning of the day, as Michael Ruiz won at 106, pinning Hereford’s Jose Palacios in 1:58.
The girls side featured no individual champions from the area, although Dumas was third in the team standings with 64 points.
Three area wrestlers reached the girls championships. Jolee Jones of Dumas won silver in 235, as did Palo Duro’s Victoria Vasquez in 114 and Tascosa’s Zirri Zamora at 100.
Zamora entered the meet as the only unbeaten girls or boys wrestler from the area, but lost the title match to Judith Sandoval of El Paso Hanks, 12-5. Ironically, Zamora rallied in the Region I-5A championship match to beat Zamora, who had also entered that match undefeated.
While she didn’t win gold, Randall’s J’Nessa Reynoso still set a record. Wrestling at 165 pounds, Reynoso set a single-season record for wins in that class with 53 when she defeated San Antonio Wagner’s Yadhira Lerma via pin in the first round.