By Priscilla Hernandez
Wrestler Herbeth Challapa Jr. followed his heart and never looked back when he decided to wrestle at the collegiate level.
Challapa, who previously played football, began wrestling during his junior year at Bell Gardens High School.
He was convinced to try out for wrestling by a former football teammate.
His wrestling career continued at East Los Angeles College.
Challapa’s high school coach Fernando Garcia pushed him to keep wrestling at the collegiate level.
When Challapa was given the opportunity to continue wrestling at ELAC, he said, “I had no doubt this is where me and my path belonged and I will proudly represent the team any chance I get.”
When he wrestled for Bell Gardens, Garcia taught Challapa to be a fierce competitor.
“Whether it is a win or loss, you don’t want the guy walking off the mat. Keep going until they have to pull you and your opponent off each other,” Garcia said.
Challapa keeps these words close to his heart because his current coach, Jorge Guerrero, expects a similar attitude from the team.
He also takes that attitude and uses it in his everyday life.
“I see it similar to everything else in life, where you keep chasing whatever you want in life until you achieve it,” Challapa said.
This attitude has brought him a long way in a short amount of time. During his freshman season, he was a state qualifier for the 174-pound wight class.
He represented the Huskies at the South Coast Conference.
His teammates gave him the nickname “Herb-Nasty,” because he isn’t embarrassed to be drenched in sweat or afraid of the cuts he gets during practices and duels.
The nickname also refers to how hard he works on the team.
He will continue his hard work to qualify for state events.
In order to be the wrestler he is today, Challapa has a routine that helps him prepare for his duels.
He starts preparing two days before by hyping himself up with music and going on hikes to help clear his mind.
He does this to lock in and focus on securing the win.
The day of the duel, he listens to his game-day playlist, which includes genres such as classic rock and techno.
His go-to hype song is “Can’t Stop” by Red Hot Chili Peppers. By the time he steps on the mat, he embraces the pressure and gets dialed in.
This season, Challapa is named co-captain alongside Joshua Padilla and Hector Ramirez.
Challapa said his role is to “motivate my guys and to lead them along with my two other co-captains.”
“With everything we have going on for this season, our job as captains is to help the team realize we have one vision that we’re all chasing after, and it is for each guy on the team to reach the best possible outcome they can.”
He keeps himself motivated by thinking of why he fell in love with the sport.
Wrestling taught him how to take accountability in his life.
One of his main motivators are his teammates because they push him to keep going.
“[He] is essential to our team because he exemplifies what we want to be and try to be, which is disciplined, consistent and always working hard,” Padilla said.
“Having him as a co-captain is good because he’s exactly what I try to be. When there are times that I don’t feel that way, I know he is my helping hand to pick me back up. We are very similar and are setting the example for the entire team.”
Challapa said if the opportunity were to present itself, he would definitely consider wrestling at the collegiate level.
For this season, the goals he has set for himself are to maintain his composure, be a good teammate, be a state qualifier and to become an All-American.
Challapa said he plans on giving everything he has to the sport and give his best every time he steps on the mat.