Top left, Kaylynn Martin pins her opponent from Round Rock McNeil to advance in the Region IV Tournament. Martin finished in the third place to advance to the UIL State Wrestling Tournament for the third time in her career where she is a two-time state placer. Martin enters the tournament with 26-3 record. Top right, Jesyka Banda pins her opponent from San Antonio Reagan to pull off the upset and advance to the Region IV final in the 100-pound weight class. Banda has advanced to the regionals four times in her career. Banda is a three-time state qualifier looking to win her first state medal. Banda enters the tournament with a 40-2 record. Bottom left, Anisa Moreno pins her opponent from Schertz Clemens during the opening round of the Region IV tournament. Moreno went on to win in the 145-pound weight class. Moreno is a three-time state qualifier with a record of 34-3. (
Photos provided by Davina Moreno)
From left, Kaylynn Martin, Anisa Moreno and Jesyka Banda celebrate their regional medals with Martin placing third, Moreno placing first, and Banda placing second. All three wrestlers are multiple time state qualifiers looking to win their first state medal. Behind them is assistant coach Jeremy Cross, head wrestling coach Garvin Smith and assistant coach Charline Hagemaster. (
Photo provided by Frank Moreno)
Three Rattler wrestlers look to medal at state tournament
The San Marcos Wrestling Program continues its strong tradition as seniors Jesyka Banda and Kaylynn Martin, and junior Anisa Moreno will participate in the UIL State Wrestling Tournament.
“They have been a huge part of the program,” Smith said. “They all have a mental attitude that is unstoppable. Going through it all, I cannot tell what kind of building blocks they have contributed. Each one brings a talent to the table which is remarkable to watch how they pick each other and drive the entire program forward.”
Banda, who competes in the 100-pound weight class with a record of 402, is a two-time district champion, four-time regional qualifier, one-time regional champion, and three-time state qualifier.
Martin, who competes in the 114-pound weight class with a record of 263, is a three-time district finalist, three-time regional placer, three-time state qualifier, and two -time state placer.
Moreno, who competes in the 145-pound weight class with a record of 344, is a two -time district runner-up, one-time district champion, two-time regional placer, one-time regional champion, and a three -time state qualifier.
Despite the trio’s accomplishments, the sport is not a simple event to compete in and requires years of training to be successful.
“Though we make it look easy, wrestling is one of the most difficult things to do,” Moreno said. “It doesn’t come naturally and it takes a lot of work and practice.”
As one can guess, wrestling exerts a lot of energy on a athlete as they try to pin the other on the mat.
“Match wise there is a lot of physical demand,” Moreno said. “You are fighting someone who is going to give you as much physicality as they can. It’s almost as if you are running a mile while carrying dumbbells. You have to have strength, agility, speed, and strategy.”
But the physicality side of the sport isn’t the only thing the athletes have to worry about.
“You need a strong mentality,” Banda said. “If you don’t, you will break and lose a match before you start it.”
Along with senior Martin, Banda has been enjoying her final year of high school with her teammate who have stuck together for all four years along with Moreno despite being a junior.
“It’s been a cool experience,” Banda said. “Me and Kaylynn have been through it all together since freshman year. Having Anisa around makes it a good experience.”
With it being her last year of high school, Martin is under less stress than previous years as she looks to win her first state medal.
“With it being my senior year, I feel less pressure,” Martin said. “I feel like it’s about going out there and having fun.”
Despite being in different weight classes, the trio often practice and wrestle with each other to prepare for their upcoming matches.
Though it might not seem like it, wrestling people of different sizes has proven to assist one another out.
“It helps very much,” Martin said. “If I go up against her [Moreno], who is 20 pounds heavier than me, it makes it easier to go up against someone in your weight class. When you wrestle someone heavier, you are building up your strength.”
One aspect of wrestling people in a class not of your own is the variety of techniques wrestlers of contrasting sizes use.
“There are different strategies and styles when it comes to wrestling in a different weight class,” Moreno said. “Once you go heavier, it’s more of the hand fighting but when you go lighter it’s who is going to be quicker. You are getting a feeling for everyone.”
When practicing with her teammates, Banda can tell the difference between the two, that helps her prepare for upcoming matches in her weight class.
“When I go up against Anisa and Kaylynn, they are different,” Banda said. “Even though Kaylynn is 14 pounds heavier than me, she is super strong and with Anisa she is super tall. In my weight class you are either super tall and skinny or short and stocky.”
But throughout the practices and the matches, the three wrestlers have become a close knit group as the season comes to an end at the State Tournament.
“It’s their drive,” Martin said. “They have different mindsets on what they want to go after because they all want something. You can see when they don’t achieve it … they definitely push me for sure and I probably would not be going to state without them.”
Despite wrestling being a sport about individuals competing, there is still a team element about it.
‘We just feed off of our energies,” Moreno said. “It’s an independent sport but at the same time you need a good enough team with a good coach and a good foundation to want to go to practice everyday. These are funny, fun girls who are beautiful and kind. At times when I feel down, they look at me and say ‘All right, let’s do one more’ which lets me feed off them.”
In fact, Banda puts it quite simply.
“It’s a family,” Banda said. “That is what families do and they push each other to do the best. That is what we do.”
The UIL State Wrestling Tournament starts Feb. 17-18.
cmcwilliams @sanmarcosrecord.com Twitter: @ColtonBMc