High School Wrestling

Panthers dominate, sweep 11-5A wrestling titles

By Dennis Silva II, Sports Editor
Posted 4/7/21

Paetow’s boys and girls teams swept the District 11-5A wrestling championships at the Merrell Center on Wednesday, April 7. And though the programs are just four years old, the impressive results came as no surprise to coach Eric Scholle.

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High School Wrestling

Panthers dominate, sweep 11-5A wrestling titles

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Paetow’s boys and girls teams swept the District 11-5A wrestling championships at the Merrell Center on Wednesday, April 7. And though the programs are just four years old, the impressive results came as no surprise to coach Eric Scholle.

“We kind of knew,” Scholle said. “It was the expectation to win both of those tournaments this year. That was the goal. It’s a process. A lot of the kids who are seniors have been with us this entire time and been awesome leaders and have had success. They’ve led the way, and we’ve got some young kids who came up and did well for us as well.”

The Paetow boys dominated with 218 points, followed by Huntsville (135), Richmond Foster (105), Waller (77) and New Waverly (67). The Panther girls’ title came down to the last few matches, but they prevailed with 110 points, followed by Foster (104), Huntsville (84) and New Waverly (81).

“It was awesome,” Scholle said. “They really did their best of the year on the most important day of the year so far.”

The top three placers in each weight category advanced to the regional meet next week in Anna. Generally, the top four placers advance, but COVID-19 restrictions are enforced. In any other year, the Panthers would have advanced every boy and girl wrestler to regionals.

Paetow had seven boys win a district title: senior Preston Ferguson (113-pound class), sophomore Austen Hirsekorn (132), senior Nathan Stahl (138), senior John Abney (145), senior Josiah Bernhardt (152), junior Yader Muller (160) and senior Jeremiah Marquez (195).

Abney, the school valedictorian, was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler in the lightweight division. Muller was named Most Outstanding Wrestler in the heavyweight division.

Abney improved to 16-3 this season.

“Abney is the best all-around kid I’ve ever coached,” Scholle said. “He’s incredibly hard-working. He has built himself and just gets the job done. For him to get Most Outstanding Wrestler was just a really cool culmination of his four years.”

The Panthers’ other regional qualifiers on the boys side were junior Jarrett Cox (third, 120), junior Andre Feagins (second, 170), junior Bryan Del Cid (second, 182) and junior Isaiah Villanueva (second, 285).

Senior Cameron Jiminez was the lone Panthers girls district champion. She won by fall over Richmond Foster’s Mia Sands in the 110-pound class and improved to 13-2 this season.

“Cameron is one of the toughest girls I’ve ever coached,” Scholle said. “She absolutely hates losing. As much as she’s been a big part of the program, she hasn’t had the same level of success as some of her teammates and that motivates her. For her to win was awesome for her.”

Paetow girls regional qualifiers included senior Brittney Galindo (second, 102), freshman Isabella Fresneda (third, 119), senior Natasha Monroe (second, 128), senior Mackenzie Lloyd (second, 148), freshman Melany Perez (second, 185) and junior Emely Flores (third, 215).

Galindo, Monroe, Lloyd and Abney have been with the program all four years. Scholle remembers when his wrestling period that first year consisted of just five kids.

“It’s been so fun and rewarding to watch them get better, grow, have a lot of success and build,” Scholle said.

The next year, the program added Marquez, Bernhardt and Jiminez as move-ins, “huge cornerstones that have made the team what it is,” Scholle said.

“Working with these kids and working at Paetow has been such an awesome experience,” Scholle said. “There’s nothing like being a part of a program from its inception. You get to design the mats and the uniforms and set the standards and rules. It’s extremely rewarding to have a footprint on everything.”

Scholle, a Chicago native, came to Paetow after a year at Cypress Creek. Before that, he started the program at Reedy High School in Frisco. He always remembered the thrill of building something from scratch, so when the Paetow job opened, he jumped at the opportunity.

Since then, Scholle has established a disciplined program predicated upon work ethic and fun, along with assistant Jamie Bridges, who was named the district’s girls assistant coach of the year. For Scholle, the district’s boys coach of the year, winning is a byproduct of doing things right.

More than any district championship, he appreciates his student-athletes who are responsible leaders and admirable representatives of the school.

“We work very hard, but we have a lot of fun,” Scholle said. “The goal is to get kids who love wrestling and want to be around it and want to work hard, and after a couple of years, they can be pretty good.”

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