The Lady Warriors are ready to hit the mat. Mariana Perez, Anissa Armijo, Jayden Kayser and Sasha Gonzales were among teammates facing off against each other. Gonzales comes off a season in which she took 2nd place during the state championships.
Greg Byrd | El Defensor Chieftain photos


Before the official season begins in 2022, the Socorro Warriors grapplers came out on a Wednesday to compete against their biggest opponent. Themselves. Mats were rolled out, lights were rigged and athletes were dressed to hit the floor for a friendly series of competition on December 15.

Warriors head coach Joel Partridge was able to get an official wrestling referee to come out for the unofficial meet.

“Last year due to COVID we were unable to attend several events,” he said. “So we’re trying to continue this tradition here. We are mentally tough. Several of our alumni are here helping out. We treat the two teams as visitors as well as home so that they can experience the tournaments coming up this season.”

Former wrestlers Niko Gonzales and Ian Jordison faced off coaching the white and blue teams. Both won multiple trophies for Socorro. A coin flip on the mat which Partridge decided which kids as well as the weight classes would be coached by the alumni. Kids were fighting for positions on the team based on weight class going forward.

Teammates were pitted against one another as they prepared for statewide competition.

Each weight class was given designated seats for both boys and girls. This was not an easy endeavor. Socorro Tourism Director and assistant wrestling coach James McNeill was at the local throw down helping to set up amenities.

“This is not the easiest thing to put on,” he said. “We have to roll everything out for these guys. But this is what you do in wrestling. There is no weight class as we watch as coaches. We’re just trying to figure out who is the best. Doesn’t matter who knows who. Let the best person win.”

During the qualifying home tournament, four female wrestlers came out to compete: Sasha Gonzales, Jayden Kayser, Anissa Armijo and Mariana Perez. They ranged from eighth grade to the sophomore level and were all fighting for varsity spots on the team.

“We’re trying to push ourselves and our fellow teammates,” Perez said. “I dare our opponents to find a way to beat us. Any opponent coming up against us should expect a fight.”

While the younger athletes were fighting for a roster spot, established varsity students were awarded new RUDIS brand team backpacks for upcoming events.

“We have an idea of what our varsity team is going to look like,” Partridge said. “Last year everything was very much up in the air, juggling COVID and all of that. Kids are out all the time recently from all the teams, and you assume it’s the pandemic. Now we have a better understanding of how to help these kids compete and succeed. This is a tough group of kids that are excited to compete this next year.”

Coach Partridge also expressed his biggest concern for his players as they have to maintain weight while also celebrating during the holiday months.

After the New Year’s holiday, the Warriors are off to the races with a January 6 home meet during the Socorro Duels. A three match in six days road trip is in the cards as the team goes to Moriarty and Pecos afterwards as the team attempts to bring home trophies in 2022.