With a start based in youth wrestling, Socorro High School has been on a seven-year run with multiple state champions and it has become one of the premier programs in New Mexico.

From a half dozen athletes, Socorro’s numbers have swelled into the 40s, and last season, sophomore David Gutierrez Jr. and senior Caden Moreland were crowned state champions.

“We started with youth wrestling. We didn’t have a high school program seven years ago,” Socorro head wrestling coach Joel Partridge said. “We had about eight kids, well five to eight kids, it grew into 40. There were six serious kids, and my son (Trey Partridge) was part of that group.”

Pinpointing the keys to Socorro’s success is easy when considering Partridge and his staff coach the sport year[1]round. When the high school season ends, there’s youth wrestling and chances for wrestlers to hone their skills on a national stage. It’s about commitment, hard work, and knowing a wrestler’s strengths and weaknesses.

“My coaches and I, we don’t coach part-time. Yesterday, we were at a tournament with our youth kids, and all four of my staff were there with me. We coached till the end from eight o’clock in the morning to six o’clock in the evening,” Partridge said. “They give up a lot of time with their families. We’re very confident as the kids come through the pipeline; we’ve coached them all and will continue to home-grow them. That’s why we’re one of the best programs in the state.”

Partridge points to the commitment of his athletes and their families as the main reason Socorro has enjoyed its rise.

“We bring home state champions every single year,” Partridge said. “The reason is because of the dedication of the athletes and the parents from the youth program. We replenish every year. I always hear coaches saying, oh, we’re in a rebuilding year. We don’t rebuild. We reload.”

There is some rebuilding that is going on after the Socorro wrestling program was displaced from its wrestling room due to an arson-related fire that occurred on Easter this year. The team now practices in the Zimmerly school gym, and early results this season show the Warriors are rolling right along.

“A wrestling room is specific to wrestling. We’re basically in a gymnasium with mats down,” Partridge said, “We have to pick our mats up and take them up to the high schools whenever we have competitions, and we had to put them back down or reshape them,” Partridge said. “That makes for a long wrestling day. Wrestling is already a lot of work. It’s a little harder because our other mats are in our practice facility. They just stayed in the facility but burned up in the fire.”

The wrestling season is likely to be over before the program will be able to return to its wrestling room.

“We’re thinking mid to late February, but that’s the end of our high school season. I don’t think we’ll disrupt anything; we’ll try to get ready and prepare for the spring season for the new kids that come in during the spring,” Partridge said. “So that’s kind of our plan right now. If it worked out to where we could get into it sooner, that would be wonderful, but we’re not planning on it. I think we’ll stay where we’re at. We’re very grateful that we have a place to go wrestle.”

With Partridge’s short-term goals fulfilled, he’s keeping his eyes on the future of wrestling in Socorro.

“My main goal in wrestling is for it to be sustainable as part of the sporting landscape of Socorro forever. That’s success to me. That’s what I want. Do I want the Blue trophy (team state championship)? It would be awesome. But, I want beyond that, beyond the trophy. There’s going to be wrestling in Socorro that I can watch. We’re competitive, and the various programs are thriving. It’s that important to a small community. To me, it’s the most important thing outside of family and God.”

The Socorro wrestling rosters include. Warriors–107 Marius Lucero; 114 Isiah Estrada; 120 Lucas Lopez Saavedra; 127 Kane Johnson; 133 Angel Perez; 139 Kadeyn McNeil; 145 Patrick Ware Moya; 152 Patrick McBride; 172 Kaden Dow; 189 Miguel Ponce; 215 Dominic Anaya; 285 David Gutierrez Jr.

Lady Warriors–100 Arasely Moreno; 107 Jada Castillo; 114 Mariana Perez; 120 Sasha Gonzalez; 126 Anissa Armijo; 132 Jayden Kayser; 138 Kalena Vanlandingham and Chloe Etsitty; 145 Victoria “Jeanette” Otero; 152 Maria Ruiz Jaquez. The remaining 2023-24 schedule includes the 2024 Conflict in Cleveland (Jan5-6), 3rd annual Sammy Vivian Invite (Jan 12-13), Ruidoso at Socorro (Jan. 17), Socorro at Roswell (Jan. 24), Pojoaque Valley Invite (Jan. 26)