El Paso high school wrestlers had a strong day Saturday in the championship round of the UIL Wrestling State Championships in Austin with six wrestlers winning state titles.
In Class 5A, Eastwood's Devin Vasquez defeated Scott Akers of Flower Mound 12-4 to win the 145-pound championship. It was the first state title of his career.
"It was an awesome feeling to get the state title," Vasquez said. "I wanted to go out there and dominate. To win a state title was my goal this season. I just tried to stay as focused as I could all weekend long. The competition was good, but I was able to stay strong in each match and do what I had to do to get the victory."
As a team, the Franklin Cougars finished second with 79 points, behind Allen, which overwhelmingly won with 251.5 points. The Cougars wrapped up a strong season in which they finished second at regionals and first in District 1-5A.
James Pleasant (152 pounds) and Alex Jimenez (195) led the way for Franklin with third-place finishes, while Cody Moss (120) and Troy Belcher (220) finished fourth.
"We did a great job," Cougars coach Jesse Almodovar said. "We hung tough as a group and just kept battling throughout the weekend."
In the Class 5A girls division, Montwood's Nessa Hernandez finished fourth at 95 pounds and Socorro's Daynna Diaz finished fourth at 128 pounds.
In Class 4A girls, El Paso wrestlers were impressive.
Yvonne Galindo of Jefferson won at 138 pounds, defeating Brianna Holcomb of Hanks, with a pin. It was the second straight state championship for Galindo.
"It feels amazing to win for the second time," Galindo said. "I came in focused and didn't underestimate anyone. I wrestled well all weekend long."
Hanks' Allison Alvarez defeated Carla Ponce of Del Valle at 128 pounds by a score of 7-3, Karina Aguilar of Del Valle defeated Jordan Smith of Bushland 14-1 at 119 pounds, and Stephanie Martinez of Austin defeated Naomi Chavez of Amarillo Caprock by pin in the 95-pound division.
"It went well in the title match," Aguilar said. "Winning a state title for the first time meant a lot to me and it was nice to see the hard work pay off. It was a good day for El Paso. We did a lot of good things and El Paso represented itself really well."
Bowie's Mayra Franco lost a close decision in the 110-pound division and finished second. Franco was defeated by Haley Moreno of Saginaw by a 9-8 decision.
In the Class 4A boys competition, Burges' Juan Sillas won his first ever state championship, defeating Chris Williams-Bizor of Frisco by a score of 19-15.
"The match was a catfight, he didn't want to give up anything," Sillas said. "It was close the whole way. I wasn't going to back down either. It was a great match and both of us wanted it bad. It feels good to win a state title. The hard work paid off."
At 132 pounds, Del Valle's Lino Gomez finished second, losing to Jacob Rubio of Canyon Randall 19-5.
Felix Chávez may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 546-6167. Follow him on Twitter @fchavezeptimes