Area wrestlers battle at La Joya Juarez-Lincoln Invitational

PSJA High girls finished first at the La Joya Juarez-Lincoln Invitational. They are seen posing at Juarez-Lincoln high school in La Joya after their tournament victory. Standing left to Right: Coach Caroline Cuellar, Kaitlin Coronado, Arlette Recio, Nancy Saldaña, Karen Marroquin, Coach Joey Villanueva (middle back), Nayeli Hernandez, Priscilla Luevano, Teresa Solis, Jessica Villanueva, and Coach Emily Ramos.

BY RAUL GARCIA

STAFF WRITER

LA JOYA — La Joya High’s Michael De La Cruz continued his perfect season Thursday, improving to 27-0 at the La Joya Juarez-Lincoln Invitational.

“It was fun like always,” De La Cruz said. “It’s good competition and my last match was a good win over our sister school (La Joya Juarez-Lincoln).”

De La Cruz extended his winning streak in the 152-pound weight class with a win over La Joya Juarez-Lincoln’s Abelardo Gloria (10-5) with a fall time of 2:40 in the championship.

Last year, De La Cruz was a regional qualifier after placing fourth at the district championship.

This year, De La Cruz is aiming at finishing first in district and making a run to state.

De La Cruz’s teammate, Rodolfo Zamarripa (18-6), also finished in first place in the 220-pound weight class to help lift the Coyotes to a fifth-place team finish.

Edcouch-Elsa won the team portion of the tournament with 200 points. La Joya Juarez-Lincoln followed in second with 181 points. Los Fresnos finished third with 145 points. PSJA High placed fourth with 97 points and La Joya came in fifth with 91 points.

“Overall, it was a tough tournament and Edcouch-Elsa took it,” La Joya head coach Rudy Cavazos said. “He’s (La Joya head coach Sam Mangum) building that program up and if you have the kids, they will slowly start improving throughout the season.”

Three other wrestlers completed the tournament undefeated in their weight class.

Edcouch-Elsa’s Felipe Neves ended the day 18-0. PSJA High’s Jesus Ceja stretched his winning streak to 3-0 and Mission High’s Dante Lopez is now 15-0.

“Dante is a stud,” Cavazos said. “He has improved a lot from last year. And he’s getting better because of his athleticism, he’s been able to escape and take his opponents out.”

Lopez is ranked 5th in the Texas 285-pound heavyweight class in 6A according to wrestlingtexas.com.

Neves is ranked ninth in the 160-pound weight class in Class 5A.

“It was a good way to measure our kids and to see where they are,” Cavazos said. “Our sport is one of the toughest sports because wrestlers have to deal with diets.”

In the girls division, PSJA High won the team portion of the tournament with 135 points. San Benito placed second with 126 points. La Joya Juarez-Lincoln came in third with 92 points. La Joya High scored 69 points for fourth and La Joya Palmview was fifth with 54 points.

The Bears are the defending district champions and four of their girls reached the state tournament last year.

The Bears placed first in three different weight classes with Nayeli Hernandez defeating Baby Lopez in the 110-pound weight class. Priscilla Luevano beat April Aguilar in the 138-pound weight class and Nancy Saldaña finished first in the 148 division.

“They looked really comfortable on the mat and looked good taking their shots,” PSJA High head coach Joseph Villanueva said.

rgarcia@themonitor.com