By Jose Godinez
Although the upcoming wrestling season does not start until September, the ELAC wrestling team seems more than ready for competition. The team wrestles throughout the year and begins strength training and conditioning during the summer.
“As long as we push each other and help each other out everyday during practice, off and on the mats, we will be ready,” said ELAC wrestler Pasha Sabet.
Retention of wrestlers is the baseline of the team. ELAC wrestling coach Ralph J. Valle believes that the retention of athletes is not only beneficial to the team, but is important, especially in this sport. He believes that building relationships with individuals on his team plays a huge factor when the athlete decides wether or not to continue or part ways with the team after his or her first season.
“I develop relationships with my wrestlers, they’re my students,” Valle said.
With retention comes experience.
Sophomores Juan Soto, Johnny Robles, Pasha Sabet, Anthony Florido, and Jonathan Mandujano are just a few of the individuals returning to the team from the previous season. “When you get all these sophomores coming in, you can do more with them,” Valle said.
Experience will surely work in the teams favor, especially with a season like last year. The team successfully received second place in conference, twelfth in state, and seventh in regional for the 2014/15 wrestling season.
Individual awards were also received by the team with seven All Conference winners and two All American winners, Joseph Magdaleno-Hudson and Adrian Herrera, who took third and fourth place in state.
“I was happy with the groups effort last season, and we held on to a couple of guys,” said Valle. “It’s a seasoned group, we’ll be okay,” he said.
With an almost all experienced wrestling roster this season, the coach looks to focus on key areas of weakness from last year.
The team will have more of an emphasis on reviewing film of wrestlers and adding more technique in relation to the previous season. The coach, who is excited to work with these individuals once more, will have the opportunity to pick up where he left off and improve from there.
“Anytime you have that many guys come back, ready to compete and are hungry, that makes you work even harder,” Valle said.
The team is also relying on some new first-time college level wrestlers for the upcoming season. This includes both players who were redshirted last year and brand new recruits all together. Although they are few in numbers.
Antonio Santana, Joshua Garcia, and Ruben Audetat are a few of the individuals who were on the team last year but were unable to wrestle due to their red shirt status. Although they lack match experience, the training, coach relationship and consistency from last season will surely work in their favor this year.
The team will also feature some new additions to the roster this upcoming season. Although most recruitment is still in the process, the ELAC team has found some success. Jovani Virgen from Norwalk High School and David Travieso from Redondo Union are the exception to this ongoing indeterminate recruitment process.
“Overall, its a good team,” Valle said, who has high expectations for his team. Valle is looking forward to coaching another year of ELAC wrestling and improving by covering anything that he missed last year. Valle said his goal for the season is “to get better and win matches.”