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Longtime wrestling couple honored

WALSENBURG, CO-   In a ceremony on January 21 to mark A Night of Champions, John Mall High School honored their seven former State Wrestling Champions.

    The school  also announced that they will rename the John Mall Invitational Wrestling Tournament the Pete and Ina Gomez Invitational beginning in 2010.  Coach Josh Vialpando first had the idea to rename the tournament in honor of Pete and Ina.  This will be the first sanctioned wrestling tournament in Colorado and perhaps one of few in the country to honor a husband and wife.  The only other tournament named after a female is the Sara Tolin Memorial Tournament in Casper, WY.

    Since 1977, up to fifteen schools from across the state, including those from the 2-4A classes, have competed in the John Mall Tournament, called the Walsenburg Invitational in its early years.

    Pete Gomez is a quiet and unassuming man whose only concern is the development of the kids he has coached. Gomez served as RE-1 high school Wrestling Coach from 1973 through 1990 and as Athletic Director from 1985 through 2002 and in 2006-07.

    During his time at Walsenburg High and John Mall, Gomez coached three State Champions, two State Runners-up and twelve State Placement winners.  He also coached to victory one National Junior Greco Champion and one National Greco Runner-up Champion.

    In 2006, Gomez was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame for his work as an official.  He began his career as an official in 1975 and since then has traveled all over the world, officiating in Mexico, Canada, France, Finland, Sweden, the former Czechoslovakia and Australia.  Gomez has officiated in final rounds in each foreign country he visited, including the Pan American Games in Mexico.

    Gomez also served on the Board of Control of the Colorado High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) from 1999-2002.  He presently serves as the Director of the International Sports Specialists based in Australia where he and his wife run two events on the Gold Coast.

    Ina Gomez, also a retired educator, taught over 30 years in the RE-1 school system before retiring.  Ina is a Pairing Master for Olympic style wrestling and has held a US National license for 27 years and a FILA (international) license for 20 years.  She is presently serving her second term on the Executive Board of the United States Wrestling Officials Association, a group of over 3000 members which includes both referees and pairers.

    She has worked local, national and international events in over 30 states, including Hawaii.  Being assigned as either the Head Pairer or only pairer at many tournaments has allowed Ina to take several Walsenburg girls to work these events.

    Ina has worked seven World Championships, two World Cups, six Pan American Championships, two Olympic Festivals, five Armed Forces Championships and 87 other international tournaments in France, Sweden, Finland, Canada, Mexico, and Australia as well as in the United States.  She has presided over dual meets between the USA and teams from Poland, Cuba, Belarus, Russia, and Sweden.  In addition, Ina has worked over 100 national tournaments as well as hundreds of local events.

    She runs high school and junior high school collegiate tournaments and writes the championship award brackets at the CHSAA state tournament.

    Ina was voted the National Pairing Master of the Year in 2002, voted the National Dedicated Service to Pairing Award in 1989, and received a Regional Service to Wrestling Award in 1987.