Wolverines Place Five in Top Three at Spartanburg County Championships
By: Garrett Mitchell
The Woodruff High School wrestling team is riding a wave of momentum and is rolling into the postseason on the heels of a successful regular season and a county championship meet that saw the Wolverines crown two individual champions and place five more wrestlers in the top 10 county-wide in their respective weight classes.
Brothers Tony and Genaro DeLaGarza each won their individual titles in the 126-pound and 106-pound classes respectively while Lavelle Martin, Ja Young, Charles Landrum, Brandon Rosales, and Alejandro Quezada all took home third place honors in their weight classes in the county tournament.
It was a strong end to a regular season that saw the Wolverines finish 19-8 and 3-1 in Region III-3A competition, claiming a number two seed from Region III in the class 3A wrestling duals behind only Union County.
For the DeLaGarza brothers, it was a high honor to share a county championship with each other as one will soon end his Woodruff career while the other is just getting started.
“It’s amazing,” said Tony, a senior. “I’ve been dreaming about this for the longest time. For me, setting the bar high for (Jenaro), I don’t want him to be like me. I want him to be better than me. I want him to break records and make his own name at Woodruff like I did.”
Tony, who currently has an individual record of 56-3 this season, is a favorite to contend for an individual state championship. His younger brother Genaro, who is a freshman, is enjoying his first taste of varsity success and is lauded as one of the best up-and-coming wrestlers in the program.
“It has been a real challenge this year coming in as a freshman because nobody saw me coming up this quickly,” said Genaro. “You just have to work hard to improve.”
Genaro added that there is a bit of sibling rivalry between himself and Tony.
“I would like to beat his record for most wins,” Genaro joked. “My freshman year, I’m trying to make it a lot better than his was. I’ve just had to fight my way through.”
Still, it is a team effort that makes this Wolverine squad successful and a talented group of seniors also have designs on competing for individual and team state championships.
Lavelle Martin, a talented senior who wrestles in the 160-pound weight class, says a powerful senior class has been the catalyst to the maturity and success of the overall team.
“This means a lot to us as seniors,” said Martin, who finished third at the county championships. “We have been working hard. I didn’t wrestle my freshman year, but this team is a family. We work hard every day. Wrestling has gotten me through a lot of life situations and put me further ahead in life. Wrestling is the hardest sport and I see it as my outlet.”
Ja Young, another talented upper-classman who finished third in the county championships in the 170-pound weight class, is thankful to be on the mat after a season-ending injury midway through football season also cast his final wrestling season into jeopardy.
“It’s great to be out here with such great people,” said Young. “As a team, I cherish how we bond and all of our accomplishments make it great. In all honesty, I wouldn’t have this success without a great team behind me. I’m thankful for that.”
Woodruff head coach John Harper added that it is the maturity of his team that helps drive their success. With seven seniors on the roster, Harper knows he has a strong, mature core of wrestlers to rely on to help mentor his younger athletes as well.
“I think the big thing with this senior class is, they have been together for so long,” said Harper. “It’s very rare that you get a senior class that is this big. Having that competitive mindset with our seniors, for our younger kids to see, it’s infectious. It is something they can feed off of and look to and say, that’s how they did it, they did it right, and we want to do it not like them, but better than them. It gives them something to strive for.”
The Class 3A team duals, which will culminate with a team state champion, begin for the Wolverines on February 8.