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Cassandra Medrano has a photo in her garage of Jubilee Rendon as a constant reminder of the UIL Class 6A wrestling state championship from a year ago.

Rendon, then a freshman from El Paso Franklin, captured the 100-pound weight class state title, beating Edinburg High’s Medrano 13-7 in the semifinals along the way.

Edinburg High’s Cassandra Medrano Monday, Jan. 29 2024 in McAllen. (Delcia Lopez| [email protected])

Medrano is back this season, now a junior and undefeated at 28-0. A rematch is always possible but that journey begins today with the District 16-6A tournament beginning at 9 a.m. at La Joya High School.

The Bobcats girls team has four wrestlers ranked as the top seed going into the one-day event. Two of them, Medrano and senior Kenia Islas, both ended up on the state podium Medrano taking fourth in her class and Islas sixth. The expectations are higher now.

“We are hoping to get her higher than that this year,” Edinburg wrestling coach Abel Saenz said. “She lives, eats, breathes wrestling, and maybe sleeps once a week, too. She has worked so hard. She doesn’t event cheat on meals after the season is over. Very dedicated.”

Already a two-time district champion, the defending regional champ and fourth in the state, Medrano’s expectations are simple.

“I want to bring that title back this year,” she said. “I’m where I want to be, working harder, putting all the training in. Last year, it was all mental. But I believe more in myself and have more faith. I know I can do it.”

She’s been able to push the mental aspects to the side and remained focused. She said the staredowns from opponents or when a competitor’s friend tries to talk her down aren’t successful tactics anymore.

“I think she’s more determined than last year,” Saenz said. “She showed up last year but those losses her first of the year she had to fight through that and she gained the experience of being on the podium, so she can scratch that off, and now she’s only looking at the top prize.”

This year, Medrano had been ranked No. 1 in the state by some rankings. It’s not something she looks at or places any faith into. She knows that a slip can ruin a match. In fact, during one match this year, she was down points with time running down and her sister calling out the time. She knew it was “go time.”

“I hit a Hail Mary and hip-tossed her for the pin,” Medrano said. “I knew I had to hit it. I took a shot and she pulled me up. And when she pulled me up, I had my tie for my hip toss. It’s what I wanted, and that’s when I threw her.”

The top four wrestlers from each weight class will advance to the regional tournament, one step away from state.

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