Texas Panhandle dominates at Region I-5A wrestling tournament


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Randall held off Tascosa to win the regional championship on Saturday. [All photos by Roy Wheeler/ Press Pass Sports]
There were schools from El Paso to Aledo gathered for two days at the Region I-5A wrestling meet at West Texas A&M’s First United Bank Center, but when it was all over Saturday afternoon, everybody saw why the 806 is where championships are decided.

Just like the District 3-5A meet a week earlier, the region meet had the same team champions. The Randall boys and Dumas girls emerged as the winners out of 45 teams who wrestled in the region.

Randall continued to live up to its reputation as one of the state’s top boys’ programs, winning the team title with 220.5 points, 17.5 points ahead of another metro school, Tascosa. Dumas, which won the girls team title at the district meet, was just as strong in the region, taking the team title with 156 points, a good 32 points ahead of second-place Lubbock Cooper.

Randall coach David Quirino didn’t think his team’s performance was perfect, but knew it was more than good enough.

“We had some losses and we let some get away but that’s why you train for the week,” Quirino said. “It’s particularly important that we stick to our game plans. We had a couple of kids that deviated, and it cost us. We’ve got some kids state qualified and we’ve got a shot to go back and remedy that.”

Randall had two individual region champions and a total of eight qualifiers for the state meet, which takes the top four finishers from each weight class in each region. The state tournament is scheduled for next Friday and Saturday in Cypress.

Randall wrestler Michael Ruiz punched his ticket to the UIL Class 5A state meet.

Michael Ruiz was the first boys regional champion of the day for Randall, winning the 106-pound class. Ruiz improved to 47-5 by pinning Cooper’s Gabriel at 2:19.

Randall’s other winner has been perhaps the steadiest boys wrestler in the area this season, Riley Davis at 175. Davis won his first three matches via pin before facing Palo Duro’s Darien Lewis for the third time this season in the championship match.

Riley Davis of Randall won outstanding wrestler of the boys division on Saturday.

This turned out to be a more challenging match than the others for Davis, mainly because he popped out his right shoulder in the first period while holding a 2-0 lead. The match was stopped and Davis popped his shoulder back in, which only slowed him down enough to win a 14-3 major decision, the second major decision he won over Lewis in the last week.

“It happens quite a lot, but I always keep wrestling and deal with it,” said Davis, who improved to 26-2 on the season. “At the end I just had to take him down and let him up because my shoulder wasn’t allowing me to do what I wanted to do but it still worked out. It gets harder each time because they know what to expect, but it was still no problem.”

For that effort, Davis was named the outstanding boys wrestler of the meet.

The Dumas Demonettes won the regional championship on Saturday. [Roy Wheeler/ Press Pass Sports]
Like Randall, the Dumas girls also swept the team points title and outstanding wrestler awards. Senior Emily Loya, who won the 126 class, was named the outstanding girls wrestler of the meet.

Loya was one of three individual champions for Dumas, as Elaina Morgan (138) and Jolee Jones (235) also won gold.

“I feel like our girls progress every week,” said Dumas coach Chris Holzworth, who was named the girls coach of the year. “The goal is to try to get better after every match. If there’s a loss we try to learn from those things and we’re just putting the pieces together to get better every day. The favorites to win matches all three ended up winning theirs.”

Emily Loya of Dumas won regional for a third straight year. [Roy Wheeler/ Press Pass Sports]
Loya has been a favorite just about every time she takes the mat this season. She won all four of her matches via pin, concluding the day by pinning Joy Jackson of El Paso Burges in 1:07 in the championship match to improve to 37-2 on the season.

“It’s awesome,” Loya said. “The feeling is unmatched and there’s a lot of emotions. I’m just overall happy with the tournament and the outcome. Everything was amazing. I’m definitely excited (to go to the state meet) and get out there to do it one last time.”

Katie Ruiz won assistant coach of the year for Dumas to make it a clean sweep.

Zurri Zamora of Tascosa remained unbeaten on the season

Still perfect

She was the last name alphabetically of all the girls competitors and maybe the smallest competitor in the field, but when it was all over, Tascosa’s Zurri Zamora was the only wrestler on either the boys or girls sides who left the meet with a perfect mark.

In a match of undefeated wrestlers to start the day, Zamora faced Judith Sandoval of El Paso Hanks in the 100-pound class. It lived up to the hype in terms of competitiveness, as Zamora scored a late takedown in the third period to take the lead and held on for a 7-6 win and a gold medal.

Zamora is now 41-0 on the season after beating Sandoval, who entered the match 43-0.

“She was a really good opponent from what I’d heard and I know other girls were talking about her so I expected her to come out really heavy,” said Zamora of Sandoval. “She was also protecting that undefeated record. I looked over at my coaches and saw they really believed in me and that really motivated me. It was hard to keep (Sandoval) down so I had to hold on to sustain it.”

Tascosa sends 11 to state

It turned out to be a pretty good day for Tascosa, which was especially consistent on the boys side in challenging Randall. Tascosa’s boys had eight state qualifiers while the girls had three.

Four boys won region titles, with Ethan Sims (113), Thomas Pacheco (132), Andres Suarez (165) and Jaxon Johnson (190) all bringing home gold medals. Tascosa coach Joe Stafford was named the boys coach of the year and his assistant Nick Herrmann was named the assistant coach of the year.

Tascosa’s girls were especially strong in the lighter classes. In addition to Zamora’s gold, Talyn Burkhalter (107) and Miliyah Pacheco (113) were runner-up finishers.

Hunter Bogner of Dumas will head back to the UIL Class 5A state meet to defend his crown.

Locals dominate

All told, Panhandle area schools had 35 boys qualify for the state meet with 11 of them claiming gold medals.

Other local boys winners were Caprock’s Malachi McClenton (120) and Richard Davila (144). Dumas had three champions, with Hunter Bogner (126), Daniel Acosta (138) and Bronson Baxter (150) all taking home golds.

On the girls side, there were 20 qualifiers for the state meet. There were two other area champions, as Caprock’s Deja Salazar won at 114 and Randall’s J’Nessa Reynoso won at 165.

Texas Panhandle boys state qualifiers

106 pound

1st: Michael Ruiz, Randall
3rd: Jose Palacios, Hereford

113 pound 

1st: Ethan Sims, Tascosa
2nd: Jaycob Banda, Amarillo High

120 pound 

1st: Malachi McClenton, Caprock
2nd: Kason White, Randall

126 pound 

1st: Hunter Bogner, Dumas
2nd: Kaden Ford, Tascosa
3rd: Ashton Bennett, Randall

132 pound 

1st: Thomas Pacheco, Tascosa
2nd: Brandon Smith, Dumas
3rd: Ethan Mendoza, Randall
4th: Juan Zamora, Hereford

138 pound

1st: Daniel Acosta, Dumas
2nd: Nathaniel Ruiz, Randall
3rd: Anthony Smith, Tascosa

144 pound

1st: Richard Davila, Caprock
2nd: Noah Santiago, Tascosa
4th: Ezven Venzor, Dumas

150 pound 

1st: Bronson Baxter, Dumas
2nd: Elijah Pena, Randall
3rd: Caleb Juarez, Caprock

157 pound 

2nd: Landin Lamberth, Tascosa
4th: Cesar Enriquez, Hereford

165 pound

1st: Andres Suarez, Tascsosa
2nd: Jackson Moss, Dumas

175 pound

1st: Riley Davis, Randall
2nd: Darien Lewis, Palo Duro
4th: Azariah Martinez, Hereford

190 pound

1st: Jaxon Johnson, Tascosa
2nd: Alberto Sanchez, Dumas
3rd: Parker Peterson, Randall
4th: Braden Swanson, Canyon

215 pound 

4th: Ryan Lofgren, Amarillo High

285 pound 

3rd: Eric Lucio, Hereford

Deja Salazar of Caprock won her 114 pound division on Saturday.

Texas Panhandle girls state qualifiers

100 pound

1st: Zurri Zamora, Tascosa
4th: Tammy Salazar, Caprock

107 pound 

2nd: Talyn Burkhalter, Tascosa

114 pound

1st: Deja Salazar, Caprock
2nd: Miliyah Pacheco, Tascosa
4th: Victoria Vasquez, Palo Duro

126 pound

1st: Emily Loya, Dumas
3rd: Mia Alonzo, Hereford

132 pound

2nd: Julia Stevens, Borger

138 pound 

1st: Elaina Morgan, Dumas
4th: Myleigh Hammarbeck, Amarillo High

145 pound

4th: Kareli Cadena, Caprock

152 pound 

4th: Morgan Green, Randall

165 pound

1st: J’Nessa Reynoso, Randall
2nd: Jasmine Vick, Palo Duro
4th: Keygan Grubb, West Plains

185 pound

3rd: Dally McConnell, Bushland
4th: Mareetza Maceda, Hereford

235 pound

1st: Jolee Jones, Dumas
3rd: Ariana Maestas, Borger





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