Boys wrestling takes down Diamond Bar

Varsity heavyweight junior Billy Von Goeben assumes his stance. Upon hearing the shrill sound of the whistle, Goeben moves in. Spurred by the cheers of the audience, he performs the move that he’s been practicing all week, the blast double. He follows it up a pin, securing the win. The announcer’s voice fills the gym, “And the victory goes to the Mustangs!”

Varsity and junior varsity boys wrestling defeated Diamond Bar 69-9 and 42-6, respectively, in a home dual Wednesday, Dec. 6. After being defeated by Diamond Bar in last season’s dual, Walnut came back to win this season’s rivalry match.

“I was pretty nervous coming up because I was the last one, [and] I was the closing match. I went out there, and I was prepared, but I didn’t have a game plan in my head, and a lot was going through my head. I was just kinda reacting to [my opponent],” Von Goeben said. “With everyone looking at me and with all the attention and eyes on me, I got butterflies in my stomach, [but] once I’m in the match, it all goes away.”

The junior varsity match began with an early win by 113 lb sophomore Ismael Gomez who pinned his opponent, making the score 6-0. Following the pin, 120 lb freshman Sar Arellano won his match with a bye. As the dual continued, 126 lb sophomore Brian Lu and 132 lb freshman Christian Reyes each earned six team points with pins, resulting in 24-0.

“I feel like I did very well last night. I was feeling calm and under control during the match. I was [confident] when I first saw my opponent warming up. Seeing how he drills [gave] me insight on how good he was,” Brian said. “I think [our team] did well. There were a few mistakes that some of us made but other than that, we were pretty solid.”

The Mustangs’ momentum was broken when 138 lb sophomore Michael Pham was pinned, conceding 6 points to the Brahmas. However, the Mustangs countered with a pin by 145 lb freshman Joseph Reynoso. The dual was concluded when 152 lb sophomore Jeffrey Lu, 160 lb senior Byrant Mexia and heavyweight junior Zachary Melton each earned 6 point byes.

“It felt great beating Diamond Bar and knowing that we were the better team. We put in much more work this year. We push each other everyday to work harder, which helps us grow as a team and get better individually,” Jeffrey said.

Early in the varsity dual, 106 lb freshman Dart Sloan was pinned, making it 0-6. Following Dart, 113 lb sophomore Ryan Kim lost 2 points because of a takedown, but came back with a pin following a reversal, tying the score 6-6.

“[I came into the match] confident, but with self control. You have to have mental toughness, but you also have to not overlook the opponent. You’re supposed to tune in and make sure you’re still wrestling. I know that I’m not done till the whistle blows,” Kim said. ‘It’s 10 percent physical and 90 percent mental. It’s important to believe in yourself.”

After Kim, 120 lb freshman Isaac Morales lost his match after receiving 3 takedowns and a nearfall, resulting in the Brahmas leading 6-9. The Mustangs retaliated after sophomore Daniel Mcnicholl won his 126 lb match and earned 3 team points. After that, the Mustangs dominated the mat, with 9 pins and a bye.

“The highlight of my match was pinning [my opponent]. I was happy, but I was so tired. I tried not to show my weakness so that my opponent could not capitalize on them,” 138 lb senior Ryan Jennell said. “One of the most important things [in wrestling] is being confident because if you show that you’re not confident or that you’re tired, they will capitalize on your lack of conditioning and your lack of faith in yourself.”

During the 132 lb match, sophomore Collin Hayes, 2016 Eastern Section CIF Champion, led by an individual score of 21-9 before pinning his opponent in the first period. 160 lb junior Gordon Lau and 170 lb senior Christian Elias pinned their opponents within the first period as well.

“I felt pride [when I pinned my opponent] because I know I did what my team needed me to do. I know that I’ve been training hard, most likely harder than [my opponent],” Hayes said. “My training gives me an incentive because I’ve worked this hard and I’ve put this much time into it, so I might as well win.”

Wrestling’s workouts have been increasing in quantity since last year, focusing more on muscle endurance and stamina. Their workouts include laps around the track, planks, sit-ups and sprints.

“We learned from our mistakes last year, and we had more experience going into this dual,” 182 lb junior Jacob Gaskin said. “[The workouts] help give us an edge over our opponent to win. [During workouts], I tell myself if I crack right now, I’ll crack before my opponent, so I just keep pushing past the pain. [Wrestling] gave me the mentality that you don’t ever quit.”

By Raymond Dunn, Staff writer
Photo by Isaac Le