By JESSIE VANDERSON
James Terry has landed squarely on his feet as a key member of the Pima Community College wrestling team.
“This is definitely another chance to prove myself,” said Terry. “This is more mature wrestling. I have proven myself around the country so I should not be questioned anymore.”
Terry, who admits he made some mistakes on and off the mat in high school, is flourishing at the community college level and has a legitimate shot at becoming an All-American.
Terry (174) and teammates Jacob Ortiz (184), Aaron Reasoner (149), Jesus Isla (125), Jose Ramirez (133) all won their respective weight class championships two weeks ago at the National Junior College Athletic Association Region I qualifying meet at Lassen College in Susanville, Calif.
The group left today with coaches Joe Solorio and Ed Carrasco to compete Friday and Saturday at the junior college national championship tournament in Rochester, Minn.
Squad member Peter De La Cruz, a Class 3A state champion as a junior at Sahuarita High School two years ago, is accompanying the team as an alternate. He will wrestle only if a qualifying competitor from his region in his weight class (141) cannot compete in the two-day tournament.
“I am optimistic about how we look,” said Solorio. “I was optimistic about going into the region tournament.
“I felt on a bad day we could qualify one wrestler and on a good day qualify seven,” he continued, “and we ended up qualifying five wrestlers.”
Terry, like most members of the team, is in his first year in Solorio’s program.
“This program is so great for me,” said Terry. “The team is great and being at home is awesome.”
Terry was known as an overly aggressive young man in high school who made poor decisions in the classroom and as an athlete, which resulted in his being kicked off the Canyon del Oro High School team and his subsequent transfer to Sunnyside High School.
At Sunnyside, Terry finished the wrestling season as a member of the Blue Devils’ 1999 Class 5A state championship squad.
“Everyone goes through their problems and that just made me a stronger person,” he said.
Terry says he has matured and is in control of himself as an athlete. He said he is thrilled at the chance Pima has given him to continue his wrestling career at the collegiate level.
Pima is the only community college in Arizona that has a wrestling team.
“I am appreciative of everything that has happened to me, and especially the Pima wrestling program,” he said.
Terry has been a big problem for opposing wrestlers this winter. He has a 25-4 record going into the national tournament and can become an All-American by finishing in eighth place or better in his weight class.
“The five guys we are taking all have the potential to be All-Americans at this tournament,” said Solorio.
PHOTO CAPTION: VAL CANEZ/Tucson Citizen
James Terry (bottom) practices with teammate, Jacob Ortiz. Both are among six Pima wrestlers competing in the Junior College National Championships.