Plainview has already had one elite wrestling experience this season. What’s one more?
Another weekend among the nation’s best wrestlers can’t hurt, as the Indians will compete in the 15th Annual Cheesehead Invitional today-Saturday. The Indians are following a successful run at the Rio Rancho Duals in Albuquerque, N.M., with another out-of-state test.
Plainview is making the longest trek of the 28 schools listed. The Indians will go up against schools from Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota and Wisconsin.
The different states makes for a diversity of styles, according to Plainview coach Rocky Atencio.
“Their style is going to be a little bit different,” Atencio said. “The way I was taught to wrestle is more east-coast style; we’re more bangers, hand control. Midwest (schools) like Oklahoma State, Oklahoma are more high crotches ... they’re finesse wrestlers.”
Plainview senior Drake Martel, who will compete at 160 pounds, says tournaments like the Rio Rancho Duals help prepare the Indians for what they’ll see in Appleton.
“Up there it’s going to be a totally different wrestling style,” Martel said. “They’re gonna be patient and wait for something to happen.
“I think (we’re) gonna be ready for it. They’ll be a little nervous because it’s new, but they’ll be ready.”
Martel is an accomplished wrestler himself. A state champion at 170 pounds last season at Class 5A Altus, Martel is 12-1 on the season and is receiving interest from schools such as Oklahoma City University, Wyoming and North Carolina, among others.
The three-time state qualifier figures to see plenty of accomplished wrestlers and Division I prospects like himself at the Cheesehead Invitational.
“I’ve gone to a few (big tournaments), but this is definitely going to be the hardest one I’ve been to,” Martel said.
Atencio said the sacrifices of his wrestlers to change weight classes to accommodate for Martel’s arrival are just what the Indians needed heading into a challenging season. Martel moved down from 170 pounds, prompting several moves in the middle weights for Plainview.
“Him going 60 (160) put a lot of pressure on a lot of guys,” Atencio said. “It caused Isaac (Barnes) to go to 52. Last year, Brent (Davis) wrestled 52, he’s going 45. Last year, Landon (Good) wrestled 82, he’s going 70. It put a lot of pressure on the kids in the room to say ‘hey, we need to step up and find out what’s best for the team.’”
So far, the Indians have fared well, ranking in the top 10 in the state. This weekend will be another indicator of their progress, as Atencio said that several of the top-ranked wrestlers in the nation will be in Appleton.
“We need it,” he said of the competition. “It’ll tune us up for every aspect of our game.”
Erik K. Horne