VELA’S RAMIREZ ALSO BOUND FOR NEXT LEVEL
They each had a story to tell, of trials, tribulations and triumph as the unique Multi-Signing Day went on at EHS Tuesday.
For some, it was about overcoming injury, and for another, relative inexperience; all four of the athletes saying goodbye to high school head forward with character built, bumps and bruises, and things to remember.
For Angel Villanueva, the chance to wrestle at Iowa Lakes was a short time coming: after he picked up the sport just two years ago, he was green but obviously physically gifted.
“I got trained by a cousin who made all-state wrestler at Bears,” explained the Bobcat defensive lineman, who also credited EHS coach Abel Saenz with aiding his development and believing he could get past the experience debit. “So I think I will be able to do well. Actually, some of the things I could do in football, they translate alright to the wrestling mat.”
Villanueva, who helped lead the team to its first ever district title this season, prepares to shove off to the Midwest and prime wrestling country, where he will be joined by Raymond Quintanilla, the excellent linebacker/grappler.
Bryana Perez is getting set for a new adventure too, at Oklahoma State as a cheerleader. She wrestled with her own problem, outlasting a combo injury (knee/elbow) three years ago that led to nine months on the mend.
“It was pretty bad, she did it at the same time and had to have two surgeries,” explained her mom, Eva Guerra-Perez, the EHS cheer sponsor who helped nurse Perez back to health. “We basically had to start over, teaching her to tumble again after the rehab.”
Now she and husband David can celebrate the success, as Perez heads to the Big 12 Conference to continue her lifelong love.
To those who might suggest that cheer is not a sport, Perez would of course disagree. And that goes double for the Dynamic Duo, Natalie Martinez and Maria Reyes. Both have been on the Bobcat cheer crew for four years, and one is going to UTSA in the fall to keep it going.
Reyes, who also competed in volleyball and track, was one of the finest physical cheerleaders in the school’s history, a powerpack with drive and stamina. She’s excited to be going to the Alamo City and had her comments about cheer as sport.
“It’s just as tough, sometimes tougher, than other sports,” said the ebullient Reyes, who should know. “I have had multiple injuries doing all this, but it’s been worth it.”
For Martinez, the college road does not lead to cheer, but instead to the high jump pit after she accepted an offer from UTRGV. Following a long line of Lady Bobcats who stayed local to compete in track and field, Martinez – a two-time area champ – thanked her hard-charging coach, Alicia Ramirez (aptly nicknamed “Ram”) and got to hear her mother deliver a heartfelt speech at the signing.
“She was born to run and jump, we knew that from freshman year,” said Ramirez, who depended on the long and tall Nat to help on the relays. “She’s going to be hard to replace.”
Four tables, four cakes, four happy families at EHS Tuesday, as some of the finest athletes in school annals got set to take off into the college world.
Vela has had its share of signings this season once again, and a recent one honored a true warrior. The Lady SaberCats said goodbye to one of the best track and field kids in their history, as Sophia Ramirez inked a pact with Southwestern Oklahoma last week. A team bellwether who carried a heavy load in sprints and relays – especially as one of the few seniors on this year’s roster – Ramirez now prepares to head for a small town in Oklahoma, Weatherford (pop. 11,000) where she should be able to continue her considerable success.
She advanced to regionals on a regular basis, using her long legs and ample kick to dominate the 200 meters. Ramirez improved each season after a serious injury her freshman year, and the hard work has paid off with a chance at the next level.