Chaparral's Milliner Captures Wrestling State Championship

The lights dimmed, the music boomed and thousands of fans started to cheer as the Class 5A and 6A finalists made their way through the Berry Center tunnel and to the mats to be introduced Saturday during Day 2 of the UIL State Wrestling Championships.


Making a move

Gold medalistAmong them were Chaparral’s Ava Milliner and Ellison’s Aodhan Jimenez, who had won three previous matches over two days to reach the final in their weight divisions.


One more win for state gold.


Jimenez went toe to toe with Cedar Park’s Nathan Reilly, who gained the upper hand in the second round and claimed the boys 5A 106-pound title.


Waiting in the wings –– well, in this case off to the side of one of four mats that were illuminated by overhanging spotlights –– was Milliner, who paced back and forth and lightly jogged in place waiting for her chance.


Finally, she shook hands with Frisco Centennial’s Jordyn Parker, stared her straight in the eyes and went to work on the referee’s whistle in the 126-pound final.


Milliner tied the match with a two-point takedown in the first of three, 2-minute periods.

She didn't need the rest of that alotted time.

Standing on teh podium


Milliner went ahead 6-3 in the second with two more takedowns before putting the match to bed by fall (pin) with 38 seconds remaining in the second period.


As calm as she had been all tournament long, Milliner shed her protective headgear and raised her hands in victory –– Chaparral’s first athletic UIL state champion in school history.


“It feels great. I worked really hard to get to this point,” said Milliner, short on words but not skill. “It makes me recognize my dedication to the sport. I got fourth last year and I wanted to come back and win state.”


Ellison wrestler grapplesAlso making the podium were Harker Heights’ Robbie Lock, who rallied in her last two matches for the 6A, 145-pound bronze medal, and teammate Xenia Gutierrez who was fourth at 126. Chaparral’s Makayla Davis and Shoemaker’s Christian Kent-Easter each finished sixth to made the award ceremony.


Twenty-one KISD wrestlers entered the tournament. By the end of Day 1, 12 remained with five of those –– Jimenez, Milliner, Davis, Gutierrez and Lock through to the championship semifinals.


If Friday was intense, Saturday reached surfing big waves-like adrenaline.


No amount of energy is left in the tank during each and every match, and KISD

wrestlers certainly showed off their toughness and resolve, which was difficult to miss.


A few things stood out Saturday about Jimenez –– the ball of Gauze stuffed into his nostrils to stop the bleeding, the smile despite that wound, and a strict level of composure no matter what opponents threw his way.

Twisting the leg

Close encounter

Jimenez’s trip to the 106-pound final included a

first-round win by fall –– 48 seconds into the match –– over El Paso Del Valle’s Mateo Barron, a second-round 10-5 decision over Corpus Christi King’s Isaiah Deleon on Friday.


His Saturday began with a physical semifinal bout against Jacob Barrilleaux of Dallas Wilson in which Jimenez withstood a number of head-slaps only to outperform his challenger in a 9-3 decision to reach the championship match.


Against Reilly (51-2), Jimenez (43-2) got behind early before Reilly caught him by fall in the second round.


It was a bittersweet ending for Jimenez, who improved on a fourth-place state showing last season. He was hungry to get back this year. He's starving now.


Staring down the competition“It’s hard because I worked so hard and did well this whole season. To see it end like that is a little disappointing. But, I will remember this feeling and I will come back next year,” said Jimenez, who cruised to district and regional titles in 2024. “It was surreal (to wrestle in the final). Being a spectator last year and now experiencing it, it makes you realize you are wrestling for the best.”


Ellison head coach Michael Christ said he knows Jimenez will continue to chase that state crown with everything he’s got.


“Phenomenal year, but a kid like that, and what we do at Ellison, we train for championships. So, right now, obviously, we don’t feel good because we didn’t win one. But, with enough time to reflect and look back, it was a fantastic season. A kid, like Aodhan Jimenez, he’ll be back to work and back next year,” Christ said. “He’s one of those kids, you love that your school’s name is on his sweater. A great representation of what we do and what we want to be as a program. We are lucky to have him.”


Milliner (33-2) notched a fall victory in Round 1 over Amarillo Tascosa’s Julia Kempf-Stone and a 5-0 decision over Inergee Donald of Dallas Hillcrest on Friday to reach the semis.

Getting in position


Liftoff the competitorThere, Milliner, who’s been wrestling since second-grade and

produced the poise Saturday that showcased her experience, took a commanding lead into the third period in which she finished off the state’s No. 1-ranked 126-pounder in Lubbock-Cooper’s Zoe Bennett by fall. Milliner entered the tournament ranked No. 2.


“The biggest thing I love about her –– class act on and off the mat at all times,” Chaparral head coach Kierra Boyce said. “She’s just such a good kid.”


Milliner, the District 10-5A and Region III champion, then stamped her name in the history books against Parker.


“She was strong but I know what to do in those types of situations, so I just worked around it,” Milliner said. “Just had to stay focused. It’ll mess up your match if you forget what you’re working for.”


Gutierrez (126) and Lock (145) went 2-0 on Day 1 then went through difficult, close semifinal losses to begin Saturday’s session.


They each bounced back in the consolation semifinals as head coach Enrique Menendez figured they would.


Gutierrez (41-7) notched victory by fall early in the second period over Edinburg’s Kenia Islas while Lock rallied from down 5-0 to win in sudden overtime, 9-7.


Lock (40-6) faced a deficit once again in the third-place match against Malaina Jones of Klein Oak but used a late two-point take down to seal a 6-4 decision and the bronze.

Trying to get leverage


“I knew what I wanted to do. We trained for this. I believed in my coach. I believed in myself. I believed in the process that we’ve been through. It feels great,” said Lock, who was a first-time state qualifier. “When I lost, I knew I was going to come back and keep fighting. I knew I still had it in the bag.”


Gutierrez drew a tough opponent in her third-place match in Cy-Fair’s Elliotte Strange, who picked up the win by fall.


Still, Gutierrez has plenty to look forward to seeing as she’s just a sophomore.


“She is going to be special. She’s a 15-year-old out here, and she has a heart of a lion,” Menendez said.


After two days of bodies thudding against mats, fans erupting in cheers and applause, coaches shouting instructions from their ringside chairs, the 21 KISD wrestlers who started the tournament now have a memory to last a lifetime, no matter the place they finished.


“It was very exciting. I love that we were able to get pretty much everybody in our lineup to state –– and just how great we are as a collective,” Lock said about her Lady Knights teammates and their journey from district champions, to regional titlists and then to state.


Here's how all the KISD wrestlers fared during the two-day state meet.



Ava Milliner (126): 4-0

Makayla Davis (235): 2-3

Adrien Wright (113): 0-2

Dulce Samaniego (100): 0-2



Aodhan Jimenez (106): 3-1

Ethyn Ramey (132): 2-2

Darlah Louis-Charles (100): 1-2

Giselle Solis-Leon (138): 1-2

Natalya Travis (152): 0-2



Aljohn Morales (113): 2-2

Christian Kent-Easter (285): 3-3


Harker Heights

Kimora Henry (107): 1-2

Daniela Martinez (114): 2-2

Xenia Gutierrez (126): 3-2

Karina Villa-Dickens (132): 2-2

Aniya McConico (138): 0-2

Robbie Lock (145): 4-1

Pearl Casanova (152): 2-2

Saniah Ebron (235): 2-2

David Hughes (106): 1-2

Brayden Viguers (150): 2-2