Assets in Action: Tourney pays homage to Sanchez

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By Bernadette Lauritzen

Let’s get ready to GRAPPLLLLLEE!
You really didn’t think I would make it through a wrestling season without a column about it, did you?
This weekend, the Hilltopper Wrestling team will host the Fourth Annual Bryan Sanchez Tournament.
Sanchez, a former ’Topper, was a Hispanic Merit award scholar, a crimson scholar, and went on to attend New Mexico State University. The only sport he participated in was wrestling.
Sanchez was considered wise beyond his years and he took incredibly good care of his mom Rita, a Los Alamos Middle School teacher, and sister Elena, former ’Topper wrestling manager.
Rita is without a doubt, team mom and the only parent that can get away with yelling, “Come on honey,” to her boys, as she watches them with pride.
“I was floored and so proud and so excited when they changed the name of the tournament. I knew that it came from the heart. The tournament brings him back to me every year and brings me closer to those boys,” Rita said.
Her philosophy is simple; the kids give back to you what you give to them. If you give them love and respect, they will return it. It also helps that she is a kid at heart, which builds her relationship with the team.
On Saturday, Rita, with daughter Elena Lucero, will select one ’Topper wrestler that most embodies the hardworking, kind and compassionate characteristics of Bryan.
The winner receives a handcrafted award from Rich Welding, a local artist, known for his fabrication and welding work.
Belen, Tucumari, Española, Capital, Foothill, Taos, Valencia, Robertson and Bernalillo will be up for the big event, and if you have a few minutes to spare, we would love for you to stop by and buy a hot dog and see some hard-working athletes.
The boys step up again this week to help another former wrestler, by hosting a raffle.
The funds will be donated to a former Robertson High School wrestler and former five-time state champ, battling a form of lung cancer.
The team is selling raffle tickets for $2 for a chance to win a variety of prizes including art, haircuts and more.
Sanchez passed away on his 21st birthday, he would be 25 this year.
To see a photo of the Bryan Sanchez award, visit our Facebook or Twitter pages.

Assets In Action is a community- building program of the JJAB and the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce.