By Zasha Hayes
With all fall sports shifting to spring, ELAC wrestler Josue Aguilar prepares for the beginning of the season.
Aguilar, 19, is currently a sophomore and was one of the finalists at last year’s state tournament.
Seven athletes were chosen out of last year’s 18-man team to attend state finals, but only four men placed. Aguilar took eighth place while others on his team took fifth and seventh.
Aguilar attended Belmont High School and wrestled since he was a freshman. He wasn’t going to continue his career in wrestling after high school, opting to join the Marines instead.
A change of heart occurred when he joined Beat the Streets, Los Angeles. Beat the Streets Los Angeles is a non-profit organization that helps kids stay out of trouble and off the streets. Aguilar found out about ELAC through this program when one of his teammates practiced at the school.
“It brought back so many memories and it made me want to do it again,” said Aguilar, after he attended the first spring practice last semester.
Aguilar majors in fire technology and hopes to become a firefighter. He lost two jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic and decided to temporarily quit working.
Wrestling will start in spring instead of fall because of the safety precautions put in place for the pandemic.
Aguilar has taken advantage of the extra time and opted to condition by himself or with his team during Zoom meetings, even though it isn’t the ideal situation.
He made a schedule for exercise to keep himself in shape. Aguilar monitors his diet, runs in the morning and trains during the night from Monday to Saturday. He uses Sunday as a day for rest and recovery.
“I go to a public park…and just try to get in shape. They have machines for anybody to use. At the same time I’m always cautious, always having gloves on, and a mask on. I always have hand sanitizer for after I’m finished, and when I get home, I wash up,” Aguilar said.
He would much prefer going to campus and learning face-to-face with a professor, even with the current pandemic.
For athletics, the wrestling team has taken to meeting via Zoom classes. Head coach Ralph Valle had given them workout plans for the summer and plans to do the same during fall.
“Due to the circumstances that we have right now, I do believe that spring would be a good start to a new year, starting fresh as well. I know it’s really difficult for people right now to find time to train and get back in shape and get back to the roots of the sport as well…but we always have to take care of our health. Pray to God that everything goes well and just hope the pandemic can pass on,” Aguilar said.
To Aguilar, ELAC’s wrestling team is the perfect environment for an athlete. He felt that everybody was welcoming and eager to compete.
Last year, many of the players were freshmen like him. Because of this, he believes the team understood each other and pushed each other to be better athletes. Although last season’s results weren’t what he desired, he knows the team is always capable of doing more.
Miguel Soto, the assistant coach to ELAC’s wrestling team, believes that the boys are all excellent athletes. He said that Aguilar is someone who will excel in wrestling and that he is extremely lucky to have him on his team.
“In his junior year, he was able to get a great coach. I’m pretty sure he was a JC two-time state champion and maybe even an All-American at the university level,” Soto said.
Aguilar’s athletic highlights include a three-time city placer in the Los Angeles City Section for Wrestlings. He took eighth place in the state finals last year and third in the community college regional.
He graduated high school with honors because of his academic highlights.
“Josue is very dedicated and has a great work ethic. He’s never missed practice, competes at a high level, and is very coachable. He rarely has to be told when to get started when entering the room,” Valle said.
Aguilar likes to watch videos of wrestlers and focus on the match without listening to music to calm his nerves on game days. He watches wrestlers from different countries and focuses on learning more about how to take an opponent down. However, Aguilar is content with listening to classic rock any other day.
Aguilar implores students of ELAC to keep pushing and to remember why they enrolled at the college in the first place. In his situation he wants to work toward a better future.
“Just think about the reasons why you started the journey. Don’t let anything hold you back and remember the roots where you came from,” Aguilar said.