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There may not be a more demanding sport than wrestling. Constantly fighting to stay in shape through intense workouts, healthy eating and head-on combat with determined opponents is not the lifestyle everyone signs up for. Add in the psychological battle of one-on-one competition and you have a sport that demands not only physical intensity, but in the mind as well.
Today and tomorrow brings the best in the state of Texas to the mat. These are the best of the best from the four regions of the most competitive state in the country. Simply put, these are winners.
Unfortunately, this weekend, only one will be crowned in each particular weight class. The best of the best will produce only one.
Thus, the challenge that presents itself to Rudy Gonzalez, Fabian Lara, Justin Pina, Alex Becerra, Miguel Guerra, Christian Garza, Mallely Aleman, Danae Sanchez and Victoria Leanos.
Gonzalez, of Veterans Memorial High School, and Guerra, of Palmview High School, figure to be the top choices to at least medal in Austin. Both athletes took first at the Region IV meet two weeks ago in San Antonio. Gonzalez is the four-time defending District 31 champion and took the region title by beating David Diaz of Nikki Rowe three times this year. The three wins gave Diaz his only losses of the year. Rudy has not lost a match this season.
Neither has Guerra, who is currently 24-0. The Lobo senior is the two-time district champion for the 152-lb. weight class and took the regional championship over Colby Wilson of Cedar Park Vista Ridge.
Palmview teammates Justin Pina and Christian Garza will be making the trip with Guerra as well. Pina will be competing in the 103-lb. weight class and is the Region IV runner-up. Just a sophomore, Pina is 23-4 and placed second in district and region to Francisco Garza of Nikki Rowe. Christian is a junior, but in his first year of wrestling. Competing in the 285-lb. weight class, Garza finished fourth at region, is 21-3 and finished first in District 31.
Sharyland will have one representative in Fabian Lara, who will compete at 145. Lara is just a sophomore, missed much of the season to a knee injury, but was still able to come back in time to take first in district and fourth in region. Overall, Lara is 12-1.
Alex Becerra of Juarez-Lincoln will make the trip as the alternate for the 140-lb. weight class. Becerra finished fifth at the regional tournament, is a senior and possesses an overall record of 22-4.
Of course, the men will not be the only ones competing. Juarez-Lincoln will be bringing two girls in Mallaly Aleman and Danae Sanchez. Aleman finished the year as the district champion in the 110-lb. weight class, is a junior and was the runner-up at regionals behind Natalia Villarreal of Austin Bowie. Aleman is 30-5 overall. Sanchez is the alternate for the 148-lb. weight class and is just a sophomore.
Victoria Leanos is a senior wrestler from La Joya and is competing in the 185-lb. weight class. Leanos was third at region and has an overall record of 6-1.
The first round match-ups for these wrestlers are as follows: Rudy Gonzalez will take on JT Smith of Henderson High School; Justin Pina opens up with Devon Jackson of Bellaire High School; Miguel Guerra competes with Caleb Endert of Colleyville-Heritage High School; Christian Garza has Chandler Ford of Martin High School; Fabian Lara will take on Ruben Valdez of Dumas High School.
For the girls, Victoria Leanos draws Shevon Hubbard of Skyline, while Mallaly Aleman will take on Allison Nall of Lamar.
Each tournament is double elimination.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.