Texas-Arlington Team Aims for National Attention
Written by Justin Rains, The Shorthorn staff
Monday, 28 January 2008 10:05 PM
Amidst all the successes of both the men and women’s basketball teams this season, there is a team on campus that has been forgotten but just as successful.
Even though the team has only been in existence for more than a year, the university wrestling team has already made a strong showing on a national level. The team sent four of its members to the national championships last season in Garland.
Junior Gabriel Reyes was named an All-American, the first in school history, after finishing seventh at the event.
Reyes is now one of the team’s coaches.
His goal for this season is to make his team more prominent on and off campus. To do this, he has forfeited a chance at becoming a back-to-back All-American.
“I put myself second and the team first,” Reyes said. “It’s not about me anymore. I got my goal accomplished and want the guys to be able to experience what I experienced.”
Instead of competing, Reyes now runs the practices and helps his team prepare for another run at national prominence. He also promotes the team around campus and with high school wrestlers in the area by helping local coaches with camps.
He said he could not do this if he was also competing.
Reyes said after a slow start to the season the team has started to come together and the slow start was due to not having enough wrestlers to fulfill all of the weight classes.
The wrestling team beat Texas 42-12 on Jan. 19, losing the 12 points because they did not have enough wrestlers in certain weight classes.
They then traveled to Norman, Okla., to face the B-team for the 14th ranked Oklahoma Sooners. The Fightin’ Mavs lost 29-0, but first-year coach Jeff McCall said they all came away from the trip with a positive feeling.
The team has been able to bring some talent from the local high schools into the university to wrestle, including freshman Devin Slick. Slick attended Birdville High School and wrestled there for three years.
On the season, he has won four of his seven matches.
Slick said his draw to wrestling was the competitive nature of the sport and the fact players can only blame themselves for your losses.
“I like the fact that you put everything you have into it,” Slick said. “You can’t blame the QB, [you] can’t blame anyone’s bad catch.”
Slick, however, stresses the importance of team unity. He said the team trains together and helps each other at matches by cheering each other on.
This season has seen the team grow from six wrestlers to 20, and the club continues to expand. McCall said he has already received calls from around 20 high school wrestlers, some from as far away as San Antonio, wanting to come to the university to wrestle.
“We are progressing and moving forward,” McCall said. “[We] fully expect to be better in the next years.”
The improvement as the season moves forward has the team thinking about post-season success.
“I think, personally, we are going to win state,” Slick said. “[We are] definitely going to send some guys to nationals.”
McCall hopes to finish the season ranked in the top 20 among national wrestling clubs.
Next up for the Fightin’ Mavs is a dual against Texas Christian at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the First Baptist Academy in Dallas.