By Stephen Baack, Fort BlissDecember 2, 2008
FORT BLISS, Texas--Eastwood and Caprock High schools dominated the two-day Army Strong wrestling tournament's varsity boys and girls divisions, respectively, by accumulating the most points throughout the two-day tournament at Stout Physical Fitness Center on Fort Bliss.
The Eastwood varsity boys edged out Caprock and Franklin High schools for first place with their score of 211, while the Caprock varsity boys picked up 187 points, and Franklin's team earned 162. The Caprock girl's team, however, slammed Chapin and El Dorado High schools with a score of 183 points, with Chapin earning 130 points and El Dorado finishing with 119.5.
More than 700 students from 30 high schools in the El Paso area, and as far as Amarillo, Texas, participated in the tournament. About a third of the competitors had been eliminated by the first day.
"I'm happy that we won, but I'm really happy that they wrestled well," said Roman Villa, head coach of Eastwood's team. "A lot of them are first-time varsity wrestlers who have every reason to be nervous, but they stepped up and they did really well."
Eastwood's Andy Rico, a boy's varsity sophomore in the 135-lbs. weight class who finished with a run of 3-0, said he hasn't always been successful against his toughest opponent this time - Chapin's Jordan Hildreth.
"I just had to prepare for it, because he's giving me trouble the past couple of times I wrestled him," said Rico, who attributes his win to maintaining control, rather than point accumulation.
Roman said this tournament was a good, early season test for the team and that his team enjoyed facing off with a good supply of tough competitors.
"Not everyone has all their kids because of football and all that, but we've got a really good idea of where we're standing," Roman said. "I'm happy with the way that this tournament was run, and I'm happy that we were able to come out on top."
Amarillo's Caprock head coach Scott Tankersley said, since his team had so many new, young wrestlers, he wasn't initially sure how his team would perform.
"They impressed us dearly because we didn't know what to work with them on, and we didn't know how they would react," said Tankersley. "They've done very well for us."
The Caprock girl's team consisted of five state placers from last year, who, except for one, made it to the finals and won the first day. The team also had two in the boys division who took top honors in the finals.
Tankersley, whose team he said is consistently a top contender at the state level, and he attributes their success to "good, old-fashion work ethics," he said.
"You wouldn't believe how hard they work," he said. "They're a good group of kids. They're there in the morning at 6 'o clock and they're working. They're there in the evenings too.
"We're just happy to be down here in this tournament," Tankersley added. "It's a really good tournament. We've been accepted very well here."
Candy Martinez, a Caprock senior in the 95-lbs weight class, won her match with a double-leg takedown and half-nelson pin. She said she attributes her win to practicing so many double-leg takedowns.
"I felt good," she said of her success. "She was pretty aggressive, but the double-leg was there, so I took it."