The future of Ruidoso wrestling

By Todd Fuqua

Photo by Todd Fuqua It was picture day for the Braves wrestling team during practice at the Boys and Girls Club of Sierra Blanca. Eleven-year-old Diego Baca shows off his "serious" wrestling face.

RUIDOSO – It’s really no secret, if you want a championship high school team in any sport, those athletes have to have been trained from a very young age to perform at the highest level.

Photo by Todd Fuqua Two of the Young Guns youngest wrestlers, Aiden Crow (left) and Tayton Coker, practice their moves during practice in the auxiliary gym next to W.D. Horton Stadium.

That’s why there’s not one, but two youth wrestling programs in Ruidoso.

Both teams have names that evoke the area’s past – Braves and Young Guns – and both are working hard to mold Ruidoso High’s future wrestlers.

“We have 32 registered wrestlers right now, with 20-plus going to tournaments every week,” said Pete Baca, one of six coaches for the Braves. “That’s why there’s so many coaches. With the amount of kids that we have, that’s how many coaches we need.”

Baca shares the “head coach” title with Matthew Sanchez, while Dominic Rue, Michael Jimenez, James Ramos and East Padilla help corral the team into winning every week.

Photo by Todd Fuqua Ruidoso Brave Diego Baca, left, practices a takedown move on temmate Nicholas Rue, Jan. 8, at the Boys and Girls Club of Sierra Blanca.

There aren’t as many Young Guns – coach Derek Coker says there’s 19 on the roster – but they still enjoy success.

“This last weekend at Moriarty (Jan. 7) was a rough one. We were 25th out of 43 teams,” Coker said. “But that was with just 19 kids. A lot of these teams have more than 100.”

The Braves have more athletes, but have a smaller space in which to practice. They find themselves in a room off the main gym in the Boys and Girls Club of Sierra Blanca, home to the original high school and later Ruidoso Middle School.

In fact, the paint work above the bleachers in the gym still reads “Braves.”

The Young Guns, meanwhile, have their own room in the auxiliary gym down below, in the building that borders W.D. Horton Stadium.

Both squads feature kids ranging in age from 5 to 15, with some of the older kids getting practice time with the RHS team.

Photo by Todd Fuqua Tristan Kim, left and Braelyn Urban go head to head during Young Guns practice, Jan. 9.

Baca said Ruidoso coach Andy Olive is beyond ecstatic that these youth programs are flourishing.

“When we hosted a tournament last year, he was like a kid in the candy store,” Baca said of Olive. “He was excited to see the kids and see what their talent was. He does what he can for us to help get these programs built.”

Baca touched on something that both teams are hoping happens again in the near future – a tournament in Ruidoso.

It’s happened before, and everyone – particularly the teams coming to town ­– loved it.

“It’s a lot of work and we still need a lot of help,” Baca said. “Teams from Las Cruces, from up north, from everywhere are really pushing us to host. They all want to come here. It’s in the works, we just have to get it established.

Both teams are at Rio Rancho’s Santa Ana Star Center this weekend for the New Mexico Showdown, a huge national tournament that regularly brings in youth wrestlers from half the country.

“All our kids are doing great,” Coker said. “It’s fun to watch the little kids especially. It’s intense, but fun to see them get after it.”

1 Comment on The future of Ruidoso wrestling

  1. Teresa sanchez // January 13, 2018 at 8:41 pm // Reply

    Braves will be hosting a tournament named Chris Misquez Memorial on February 18th, 2018. After our beloved coach. Come out and support us. We will put out more info soon.

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