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McALLEN – Sharyland’s boys and girls wrestling teams sent a combined eight grapplers to the regional tournament that got underway Thursday at San Antonio’s North East Independent School District Blossom Athletic Center.
The Rattlers claimed second place at the Feb. 1-2 District 16-5 Meet held at McAllen Memorial with team score of 203.0. The host school won the meet with 222.5 points.
In the girls category, La Joya Juárez-Lincoln came in second with a total score of 125.0. San Benito won the girls meet with 147.0 points.
“It’s tough,” said Sharyland head coach James Penbrook. “The level of wrestling in the Valley is as good as any place in the region, and just as good or better than Austin, Corpus, San Antonio, or any of those schools.”
“No one is ever satisfied with second,” he added. “I thought we had the team to win it, but I can’t take anything away from McAllen Memorial. They had a few more animals than we did, but I’m real proud of my kids. They’ve wrestled all year long.”
A half dozen of Sharyland‘s boys squad qualified to the regional tournament, while one Lady Rattler advanced.
Sharyland junior Shane Foley (24-5) and senior Karlo Hinojosa (30-4) won the boys’ 152- and 182-pound classes, respectively, and among the contenders to advance to the State Tournament at the Austin ISD Delco and Burger Centers on Feb. 21 to 23.
The Lady Rattlers only managed to advance a single wrestler to regionals in the 128-pound class. Jami Jaime (15-3) will represent the girls side for Sharyland.
“They’ve progressed as they should since they were freshman,” said Penbrook. “What makes some of my guys pretty good is that we’re lucky to wrestle year ‘round.”
Overall, Sharyland, La Joya, La Joya Palmview, and La Joya Juárez-Lincoln combined to qualify 32 wrestlers to the regional tournament, 18 wrestlers from the boys side and 14 from the girls. The top four wrestlers in each weight class at the district meet advanced to regionals.
Joining Sharyland’s district-winning duo is Palmview’s Enrique Zamora (28-0), who won the 145-pound division, Juárez-Lincoln’s Ray Rodríguez (30-4) claimed the 160-pound category, and La Joya’s Kristian Rivera (27-1) won the 220-pound class.
For the girls, Juárez-Lincoln’s Karina Martínez (18-5) and Danae Sánchez (20-3) won the 102- and 148-pound classes. Priscilla Hernández (19-3) and Sandra Muñoz (11-0) claimed first place in the 138- and 215-pound categories, respectively.
“There used to only be six schools with wrestling programs in the Valley, but now there’s over 19 and the level of talent has risen so much that it’s almost unrecognizable compared to 15 years ago,” said Penbrook. “There’s a lot of good kids that didn’t qualify to regionals, which means you have a lot of quality wrestlers.”
Among those talented wrestlers that didn’t qualify is the Rattlers’ 145-pounder senior Angel Ocañas (19-10), who also plays linebacker on the Sharyland football team. He had a successful season and was impressive at tournaments. Last year, Ocañas was a regional qualifier.
“He wrestled tough,” said Penbrook. “When we traveled to Austin and Corpus Christi, Angel was very success at those tournaments.”
At the regional tournament, things don’t get any easier for Valley wrestlers.
“It’s even tougher than district,” concluded Penbrook. “I think we have a shot at several kids making it to state. It’s a brutal tournament. It’s physical and long, you wrestle six to seven matches in two days. It all comes down to going and performing.”
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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.