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State Championship Is a First for Salt River Junior High Wrestling Team

Top row: Head coach Hosteen Smith, state champion Avilio Hernandez, Garrett Miguel, Vincent Gonzalez, assistant coach Alondra Chase. Middle row: Norma Gutierrez, Racine James, Charlotte Carlisle, Falcon Reed. Bottom row: Robert Ray, Lamar Lopez, Lynessa Martinez, Antonio Valencia, Alton Villeges. Not pictured: Delia Carlyle. Submitted by Hosteen Smith

The Salt River High School junior high wrestling team participated in the CAA wrestling state tournament on February 11.

Members of the team who competed were sixth-graders Delia Carlyle (120 lb. weight class), Robert Ray (128 lbs.), Lamar Lopez (128 lbs.) and Falcon Reed (152 lbs.), as well as seventh-graders Garrett Miguel (160 lbs.) and Avilio Hernandez (190 lbs.).

Coach Hosteen Smith and assistant Alondra Chase coached the wrestlers. Both are SRHS alums; Smith was the school’s first state placer during the 2010-11 school year, and Chase was a two-time ’girls state champion, in 2012-13 and 2013-14.

Individually, the team members took either fifth or sixth place in the meet, with the exception of Hernandez, who finished as the state champion in his weight class after three highly competitive rounds against Harvest Prep Academy.

Before the match, Hernandez told coach Smith, “I’m going to win this for my mom, so she can put my medal next to my picture.” Hernandez’s state champion title is a first for the SRHS junior high wrestling team.

“It makes me happy when I see all these young men and women push themselves further than they thought possible and still come back the next day with big smiles, ready for more,” Smith said. “[Hernandez’s] achievement is a historic benchmark … and I hope it will continue to happen in the years to come.”