BY RAUL GARCIA
MISSION — Edinburg North’s Ashley Sierra had to wait three hours for her championship match at the Sharyland Pioneer Grapefruit Bowl boys and girls wrestling tournament.
It was worth every minute.
The two-day tournament Friday and Saturday showcased more than 500 matches on nine mats held at Sharyland Pioneer that pitted 33 teams from the Valley and from Corpus Christi.
Sierra’s victory, along with teammates Stephanie Garza’s (128-pound) first-place and Eva Cerda (119-pound) and Kim Romo (110-pound) third-place helped lift the Edinburg North Cougars to a team victory, earning 359.5 points.
Trailing behind Edinburg North at the tournament were Corpus Christi King in second with 311 points, McAllen Memorial in third with 238 points, San Benito was fourth with 278 points and Sharyland Pioneer rounded out the top five with 245 points.
“As a team, we’re doing good and we’re are just focusing on the district meet. In the end, district is what counts,” Edinburg North head coach Rene Garcia said. “It’s always nice to have the Corpus schools here to throw a little mix to the technique and stuff. It’s good exposure to having long tournaments, getting them prepped for regionals and state where it’s a two-day tournament and both days are going to six or seven o’clock. So a tournament like this prepares them for long days and it’s been a good experience.”
After plowing through her first three matches by fall to reach the final, Sierra said she planned going in to her last match with the same plan.
“ In this sport you can be pinned at any second and you have to keep on going and you’re there for a reason and you just have to finish the whole challenge,” Sierra said. “I do it for the people that can’t do it (wrestling) and that don’t have the strength and want to do it.”
Heading into the championship, Sierra defeated Corpus Christi Carroll’s Laryssa Sanders, PSJA High’s Jessica Villanueva and Corpus Christi King’s Milana Vega.
Not only was the championship medal on the line, but Sierra needed a victory to gain the points necessary to help lift the Edinburg North girls to an overall team triumph in girls competition at the Grapefruit Bowl.
Waiting for her was PSJA Memorial’s Lorena Torres. The win would not come easy as Torres nearly pinned Sierra twice in each of the waning seconds of the first and second period but she was saved by the bell.
“ There was a point where I was going to give up, but I bridged for my life and told myself I can do it, I can do it and I finished at the end,” Sierra said. “I stayed calm and relaxed. She was strong and was good competition, but all I had to do is work hard and not give up until the end,” Sierra said.
With Torres leading 11-6 in the third period, Sierra managed to reverse out of Torres’ grip, came up from under her and applied her signature move, known as the clamp, that led to the pin and victory late in the third period.
“ It was tough, because you had to compete right away, but it was also fun because wrestlers got good matches against some of the better kids in the district,” Sharyland Pioneer head coach Richard Eckley said.
Sharyland Pioneer won the boys division with 491 points. Los Fresnos followed in second with 467 points, Edinburg High finished third with 423 points, Edcouch-Elsa finished fourth with 404 points and Corpus Christi Ray rounded out fifth with 394 points.
Sharyland High Alberto Mendoza (29-5) defeated Thiago Almeida (17-4) in the final by fall in 5:44 in the 106 weight class.
Edinburg High’s Josiah Sloss (31-4) defeated Sharyland Pioneer Austin Saenz for third place in the 106 division.
Sharyland Pioneer’s Ethan Garza (14-5) defeated Los Fresnos’ Leeroy Guerrero (11-2) in the 220 division final.
Mission High’s Dante Lopez (31-2) defeated Corpus Christi Carroll Devin Agado (26-5) in the 285 weight class final.