The Arroyo Classic Put Wrestlers to the Test


Uriel Martinez, Sports Editor

 On Saturday January 7th, the South El Monte High boy’s wrestling team  had the opportunity to wrestle in the Arroyo Classic 32-man Wrestling Tournament. In the first varsity tournament held at Arroyo High School, 39 schools from California and out of state came to compete and wrestle. As the first school to show up to the tournament, Coach Manny wanted the boys to be the first team out there on the mats warming up to prepare themselves for the challenge ahead of them. Expectedly, drilling and going through warm-ups in a small area with 39 other teams, and a set amount of time was complicated.

  As more schools started to show up, there wasn’t room to hold all 39 teams in the gym. The remaining teams were forced to wait outside the gym and set up tents outside. Outside Arroyo, staff was selling grilled food like burgers, hot dogs, and snacks for wrestlers and parents to come by and support school staff. Various unexpected casualties happened at the tournament, which were broken legs and arms, dislocated shoulders, people passing out, and the most shocking one being a wrestler almost being left paralyzed after an intense match where an ambulance needed to be called.

If this varsity tournament showed them anything it would be that some of these wrestlers’ aggression and mental strength to keep going even in the worst conditions is strong. Most people after a broken arm or after passing out might stop but not with this group. 

Instead these people kept their matches going and gave it everything they had. It was shown by the top placing schools, La Costa Canyon(226.0), Citrus Valley(165.0), Dana Hills(150.0), San Dimas(138.5), and Arroyo(135.5). Keep in mind some of these schools have wrestling year-round.

Former wrestler for Sacramento State Manual Rivera became the head coach for boys wrestling at South. Coach Rivera had some words to say about preparation for the team’s first varsity tournament of the 2023 season,  “We prepare for the tournament by having very tough extensive practices. We don’t just train one day, we train the whole week.” He then continued, “With tournaments, you never know who you’re going to wrestle. You never know the skill level or size. I try my best to have everyone wrestle with the boarding weight classes during practice so they can wrestle someone faster or even bigger so they are prepared. He then concluded with, “Lastly, I make the boys wrestle hard as if they were wrestling the length of a regular match and more so they keep up with their conditioning.”

 When asked how he would prepare the team for their next tournament Coach Manny said they’ll prepare for it by keeping stats, therefore, they can see their performance and improve on anything they need to fix. He encourages the boys to record their matches so he can go over with them one on one to understand specifically what is needed to correct their mistakes. “No wrestler is perfect and everyone could use a tune-up,” the coach added.

  His honest opinion on the team’s performance was that his team did what he expected. “My team consists of only 1 or 2 years of experienced wrestlers. There’s also more first years than second years. This tournament was going to be a very tough one.”

Coach Manny explained how he encourages his team when it comes to effort level, “I encouraged the boys to try their best and leave it all on the mat. I’m very blunt and straight up with the boys. I told them the competition was going to be tough and they are going to come across someone who lives, breathes, and eats wrestling.” The coach also emphasized for his wrestlers not to be discouraged or intimidated by the competition, “I always tell them wrestling someone who is better than you is only going to make you better.” He concluded by stating, “Only one person placed but that was what I expected and that’s okay. I was very happy with what happened and I hope the boys take it and run with it. You can always get better.”    

      Tommy Barrales a senior here, and the captain of the wrestling team, took 7th in his weight class of 160. He had this to say about his mentality going into the tournament, “I woke up feeling good and ready to put in the work, it’s all mental, the way you think is reflected upon the way you wrestle. If you think and believe you’re going to win then you will win, or at the very least give it all in your match.” When asked how he trained prior to the tournament Tommy replied, “Physically I trained hard with my team and watched what I would eat to stay on weight.” As for his mentality going into his matches, Tommy would tell himself, “You don’t have to wrestle, you get to wrestle. You don’t have to go to practice, you get to go to practice.” He finds motivation in the fact that wrestling is a privilege.  



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