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(Left to right) Senior Caitlin Hagerty, senior Christopher Soliz II, junior Gianna Moreno, senior Mason Moreno and junior Matt Banda at the UIL 6A State Wrestling Championships. Photos submitted by Frank Moreno

San Marcos Wrestling wraps up season at state tourney

San Marcos Wrestling
Saturday, February 29, 2020

San Marcos Wrestling made history this weekend by sending five qualifiers to the 2020 UIL 6A State Championship tournament. Gianna Moreno and Caitlin Hagerty competed for the girls, Matt Banda, Mason Moreno and Christopher Soliz for the boys. 

Senior captain Caitlin Hagerty had to overcome a setback at the district meet to make it to the Regional Championship the following week. This was nothing compared to losing her paternal grandmother midseason. Caitlin had to battle through that personal loss and keep training at a high level to make her goals possible. She dedicated her season from that point on to her grandmother's memory and to her father, the man who had just lost his mother to cancer. She qualified for the state tournament for the first time as a No. 2 seed, starting off strong by winning her first match 7-3 over an El Paso Franklin wrestler. She then lost two tough matches to finish her season just short of the podium. Caitlin finishes the year with 35 wins, a regional runner-up finish and several tourney championships in her career. Caitlin only began wrestling as a sophomore after being challenged by her older brother to join the team and her progress in three short years was amazing.

“I accomplished a huge goal by making it to State, that was my wish since my sophomore year. I actually surpassed that and won my first match at State, an experience I will never forget!” Hagerty said. Caitlin overcame so much this season to accomplish her goals and San Marcos is very proud of her. She finishes just outside the top ten, with a state ranking of 11th in the final polls.

Junior captain Gianna Moreno had aspirations to win the school's first Wrestling State Championship. She was ranked No. 1 at 128 pounds the entire season until the final day. This past month, she has battled through a shoulder injury and managed to win her third-straight District title, a Regional title and the "Most Outstanding Wrestler" award for the regional tourney. Going into the state tournament undefeated on the year, she was projected to be a finalist. She won her first two matches, including a great win over last year's fourth-place winner from Prosper High. Her semifinals match started off strong, as she jumped out to a 5-0 lead and almost secured a first-round pin. As the match wore on, the effects of being limited in practices the last few weeks started to show. Gianna became fatigued and was eventually outscored in the third period to lose her first match of the season. Up until this match, she had not given up a takedown the entire year in almost 40 matches. She now found herself on the backside of the bracket, fighting to stay alive. She won her next match against a former State placer and made it to the third-place bout. The emotions of the day and the physical exhaustion of a long tourney, coupled with an All-American opponent, proved too much for her. She finished fourth, becoming San Marcos' first-ever two-time State Placer. Gianna won nine individual tournament championships this season totaling 41 wins, most of those by pin. Gianna finishes the season ranked 4th in the State.

(Left to right) San Marcos Wrestling assistant coach Jeremy Cross, assistant coach Jason Rodriguez, State Placer Gianna Moreno and head coach Garvin Smith

“I feel like next year I will have to prove myself all over again, you know? But I look forward to that honestly” Moreno said. “I will get healthy as soon as possible. My goal is to win a State Title for San Marcos. And I am willing to outwork anyone and do anything that is needed to get that done!”

Junior captain Matt Banda won his first district championship and overcame a scary injury in that match to be able to compete at Regionals. He tried many methods to get physically able to perform in a little under a week's time. His hard work paid off and he was able to reach the regional championship and qualify for State as the runner-up. Banda won his first state tournament match 10-8 to reach the quarterfinals in the last few seconds on a beautiful takedown. He lost to the eventual State Champion in the quarterfinals and had to start working across the backside of the bracket. It was win or go home. Matt's next match was against an opponent that had defeated him twice during this season. Changing a few things around for this last matchup, Banda dominated the match. The final score was 7-2 San Marcos, advancing him to the third round of the consolation bracket. There he lost a very close match to a 49-win wrestler. Matt's tournament ended one round from placement against the fourth-place finisher. Matt had 42 wins on the year and will be looking for his 100th win early next year! Banda wrestled in seven tournament finals this season, bringing home three individual championships. Banda is a two-time State Tournament Qualifier. He ends the season ranked eighth in the state. His older brothers, Josh and Jon, were two of the early success stories in the beginning of the San Marcos Wrestling program. Both are very proud of their little brother for his success.

“I am happy with my improvement, just how much I have improved the last 3 years,” Banda said. “I look forward to next season and being able to show my hard work again and my goal is to be on that podium at the State Tournament(top 4 at least).”

Senior captain Mason Moreno ended a record-breaking season as a first-time State Qualifier. Mason won the District Championship by pin, advancing to regionals as a top seed. He then faced the eventual regional champion in the semis, losing and working his way to a third-place finish by pin. In the state tournament Mason started strong, quickly taking his first opponent to the mat. He made a few costly mistakes in this match and the next, losing two very close contests to end his season. Mason is a four-year starter and has amassed an impressive 134 wins, the most in school history. He set the bar high, with over 100 wins by pin in his high school career. Mason had his season cut short last year and was glad to finish this one on his own terms. Mason will continue his wrestling career at the collegiate level next year. He finishes the season ranked 14th in the State at 138 pounds.

“I am so thankful to have been a part of the program the last four years under (head coach Garvin) Smith and (assistant coach Jeremy) Cross. It took a lot of hard work to get to where I am and my goal was to improve each day a little. The next thing I know, I set the wins record, I earned a trip to State and became a team captain!” Mason said. “My advice to new kids is to never stop working and always be willing to put in the extra effort. My experience with wrestling since the age of five was just amazing. Thirteen years of this and I still love it … this is not the end for me.”

Senior captain Christopher Soliz II is no stranger to adversity. Having moved in with his aunt and uncle during his eighth-grade summer due to a family emergency, Christopher decided to wrestle his freshman year after his cousins insisted he give it a shot. His first season, he won only five matches and wrestled both 220 pounds and heavyweight. The next two seasons, he became a regional runner-up and two-time State qualifier in the 220-pound weight class. His sophomore year, he won the first 6A State Tournament match in school history. Still, he ran into the same problem both years at State. He was at a size disadvantage. After taking a college trip, he was told he would need to be a 174-184-pound wrestler at the collegiate level. Christopher decided to dedicate this season to being the best version of himself and through discipline and hard work, he lost 40 pounds to get to the 182-pound weight class. He felt like a new man. 

"It was a lot of work and discipline in each meal,” Soliz said. “I felt so good at 184 pounds, keeping my strength and being able to move much quicker."

(Left to right) Jason Rodriguez, Jeremy Cross, State Placer Christopher Soliz II and Garvin Smith

 At district this season, he lost a quadruple-overtime match in the semis to place third. Going into the Regional tournament, he had vengeance on his mind. He was able to avenge his overtime loss to reach the Championship match. There he faced an opponent that had pinned him in a match last December. Christopher quickly set the tone and stayed in command the entire match, winning the Regional Championship by pin with three seconds to spare in the last period. At State, Christopher won his first match, before losing in the quarterfinals by two points. He then won his next match by first-period pin to get to the round that would determine State placement. Losing by a few points heading into the third period, Soliz was able to secure a last-minute takedown and pin to become the third State Placer in school history. His next match was a 5-1 decision over an opponent from Allen to reach the consolation finals. There he lost a heartbreaker, 8-7, to place fourth. He finishes the season ranked fourth in the State polls. Christopher is the Rattlers’ first boys' Regional Champion and he joins his first cousins Jonathan Moreno (2016) and Gianna Moreno (2019, 2020) as State Placers.

“I would like to thank all of my coaches, Coach Smith, Coach Cross and (assistant coach) Jason (Rodriguez), for pushing me and believing in me. I felt great to be able to compete with people that have wrestled their entire lives, in only my fourth year learning the sport,” Soliz II said. “I feel I have a lot of time to get better and I look forward to wrestling next season in college! I will miss competing with my teammates each week.”

Smith added about his State Qualifiers: “I have enjoyed coaching each one of these kids from the first time they walked into my room. I knew they could be special. These kids worked harder than anyone in the State in my opinion. The seniors I will miss very much, they have been a big part of my life and this team for four years. The juniors returning next season are great leaders and will put the work in to get to where they need to be. There is nothing I would rather do than to see the smiles on these kids face as they reach pinnacles that they never thought possible.”

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666