Wrestlers rack up wins in tournament action

Christian Valencia, 12, pins his opponent during a match. Valencia was a district champion, a regional qualifier and was recognized during that night’s senior celebration.

Gabby Norman, Managing Editor

Wrestling has stepped up its game in the past few years, with multiple athletes making appearances at state. The team has earned three state titles in two years.

This year proved to be no different with senior Lexi Shannon set to defend her championship title and sophomore Lucas Early making his first appearance at the competition. Sophomore Parker Wardlow is a state alternate. 

“I feel really good about this season and everything worked out exactly how it needed to,” Shannon said. “My goal is to end up on top of the state podium like last year and also to have a successful team.”

A number of wrestlers worked hard at the district and regional meets. Freshman Alex Jasso placed at district after only one year, and then competed at regionals. Brandon Garza, 12, Jo Watson, 11, Brandon Waggoner, 11, Devin Connolly, 11, Landen Smith, 11, Trey Langley, 12, Christian Valencia, 12, Khloe King, 9, Lillian Reid, 10, and Oliver Trent, 10, also all placed at the district competition and then went on to regionals. 

“This was my first year of wrestling,” Trent said. “I wanted to make it to regionals and win at least one match, and I did.”

Trent is just one example of an athlete on the team that sacrificed in order to compete. He competed at the 138 weight class and had to cut weight from around a natural 145 pounds to do so. 

“I gave up almost all carbs and had to constantly do cardio and workouts to make weight, but that led to me being in better shape than others in my weight class so I competed better than most,” Trent said.

From no experience to years of it, competition at district, regionals, and state all varied. A freshman with little experience could take the title over a seasoned upperclassman, and vice versa. This was somewhat the case of Lexi Shannon, the current 215 weight class state champion. 

“Last year I was a nobody who made a name for myself; whereas this year, I was a big name and everyone had it out for me,” Shannon said. “It was hard balancing everything in my life, and it was a learning curve leading the team.”

Wrestling is a challenging sport both mentally and physically, and Trent joked that his biggest challenge was, “getting up in the morning after a dual or tournament.”

However, for Shannon, it is proving herself for a second time. She wants to prove her win last year was more than just luck – it was hard work.

“I put in the work and made a lot of sacrifices,” Shannon said. “I don’t really have a favorite because every part of it has been so memorable and I just loved every single second of it. I’ve gotten to prove to not only everyone else but myself I am the best at what I do.”