With school out for the summer, athletes have important decisions to make about how they spend their time.

Those looking to gain an edge for the upcoming school year and sport seasons are already working hard. 

On Tuesday and Thursday evenings, Plainview wrestling coach Rocky Atencio takes a group of athletes to work out in Norman against elite wrestlers from around the state.

“When you’re in that room, you’re getting the best kids in the state to wrestle,” Atencio. “You’ve got national champions coaching there.”

Zach Atencio was one of the few, and sometimes only, Plainview athlete to make the trip to Norman last summer. Some days he didn’t want to, but he did and the result was a state championship for the sophomore.

“Now I have nine to 11 kids going every Thursday,” Atencio said. “It’s pretty special.”

Atencio often wonders if his message gets through to the athletes. A recent text message from an athlete seems to indicate he’s made a point in some cases.

“It said, ‘You can’t cheat the grind. It knows how much you’ve invested. It won’t give you anything you haven’t worked for,” Atencio said. “It’s like life. In order to be good, to be great, you have to put in that extra time. If we’re going to be great, we have to continue to do that — not cheat the grind and put in our time.”  

On Monday, the Plainview wrestling team lifted weights as they prepared for a trip to Albuquerque this week to train with elite wrestlers from another state.

Extra effort during the offseason shows dedication to scouts that might be recruiting and can help an athlete improve more than they might if they stuck to the official practice schedule.

“Championships are won in the offseason,” Atencio said. “That’s not a secret. But when you get as many kids as we have putting in that time in, it’s going to give us that many more opportunities.” 

Atencio grew up in Albuqurque and likes to make a trip home each year to see how his team matches up with the talent from his home state.

“It means a lot for me to go back to where a lot of opportunities were created for me,” Atencio said. “I’m bringing three national champions and an All-American. When you can give back to your community and wrestle some of the best in the state of New Mexico, it’s a win, win deal. We’ll get to face some tough kids and get to showcase what we have in Oklahoma.”

The Indians have also scheduled some activities designed to bring the team together when they aren’t wrestling.

“What we get out of it is a team-building experience,” Atencio said. “We’ll go fishing, white water rafting and a lot of things that are team oriented and helps build that team character.”