Many successful teams describe their bond as being like a family. For Irving High School wrestlers Nehemiah and Linda Ventura, the bond is literal, and the success is apparent.
The brother-sister duo won first and second respectively in their weight classes at the district meet last week to advance to regionals.
While being siblings on the team may lend to extra banter from the other, the two credit their successes to one another.
“My little brother is the one that pushes me, his older sister, to be better,” says Linda, a senior at IHS. “He encourages me to run with him and to work out. He’s really serious about it. I try to have more fun, but he’s very committed.”
For sophomore Nehemiah, the motivation comes from wanting to be as successful as his sister, who has qualified for regionals each of the four years she’s competed and won district and regional championships when she was a sophomore.
“I’m kind of jealous that she got first at regionals as a sophomore,” says the two-time regional qualifier. “The medal looks really cool. But what really puts pressure on me is our older brothers.”
Their brothers – Emanuel, IHS class of 2017, and Jesse, IHS class of 2014 – were team captains who advanced to state.
“Because of them, especially the second oldest, my standards are set really high,” says Nehemiah. “They’re really hard on us. If you win first at a tournament, they’re just going to point out the things you can improve on. I just want to hear, ‘Good job.’ But I listen to what he says, and I apply it next time.”
“They’re more lenient on me,” chimes in Linda, who competed with Emanuel when she was a freshman and he was a senior. “At our house, they buy stuff and make him train, make him practice. Not so much me.”
Despite the difference in pressure from their older brothers, Nehemiah and Linda have the same goal – a state bid. Their coach, Cullen Black, feels they each have what it takes to accomplish that.
“Linda is tenacious, aggressive and doesn’t back down from any challenge,” he says. “Off the mat, she is very funny, but when the whistle blows a switch flips and she’s all business. I have coached for 10 years, and Nehemiah is far and away the most driven and focused athlete I have coached. When he is on the mat, he is calculating, focused, confident and will stand toe-to-toe with any opponent.”
Nehemiah and Linda will represent Irving ISD, along with 11 other qualifiers, at the regional wrestling tournament this Friday and Saturday at Birdville ISD’s WG Thomas Coliseum in Haltom City.
A complete list of regional qualifiers from Irving ISD can be found below:
- Isaiah Smith, senior, 132-lb class
- Linda Ventura, senior, 165-lb class
- Nehemiah Ventura, sophomore, 113-lb class
- Kaydents Garay, junior, 185-lb class
- Michael Gutierrez, junior, 152-lb class
- Jacob Ozuna, senior, 132-lb class
- Thomas Thompson, senior, 160-lb class
- Sebastian Benitez, sophomore, 138-lb class
- Dorian Caputo, senior, 145-lb class
- Luis DeLeon, junior, 126-lb class
- Isaiah Gipson, sophomore, 182-lb class
- Osiel Martinez, freshman, 106-lb class
- Jeremy Reyes, sophomore, 152-lb class