In early January, Valencia wrestling had a surprise workout when they showed up at the gym. While the floors of the gym were being worked on, the team went outside and ran hills throughout the damp evening.
Once the wrestlers were done running the hills on their own, they took turns carrying each other up the same hill.
“My reaction was let’s go out there and get it because those days are important,” said senior Ben Gould. “Those days that you put the lungs to the limits are better because when you get into those third-period matches and your lungs are dying for oxygen, it only helps if you run a hill on Monday.”
The combination of a consistent, tough training regiment and the eagerness to work hard have helped the Vikings succeed this season, most recently at the Kern County Invitational on Saturday and Sunday.
Valencia finished second as a team, bringing nine wrestlers to the tournament with eight proceeding to the second day of competition. Gould swept his matches with first-period pins in all three and consequently took first place in the 195 weight class as well as Upper Weight MVP honors.
Trent Munoz (145), Jake Quintana (106) and Braden Smelser (152) each won first in their weight classes. Max Begley came in third, Javier Garcia in fourth and Kyle Roth in fifth.
Gould’s tournament title was his third straight at the event and he has yet to lose a match this season.
“I won the tournament two years previous, so this year I wanted to seal it off as a senior and make sure I win again and everything went as planned,” Gould said.
Quintana has made it to the finals of every tournament this season. Although he’s no stranger to winning, the freshman had a mental breakthrough at the Kern County tourney.
“I kind of was a little stiff in my matches in other tournaments and this time I just decided I was going to let it fly and it worked out really well this time,” he said.
“I kind of just was too worried about the score and the clock and this time I was just like, I’m just going to have fun, do everything that I know and everything else will come naturally.”
Just about everyone on the Valencia roster seems to be peaking at the right time. It’s excellent timing, especially with the California Invitational Tournament, which has 83 teams, on the horizon.
Munoz is confident heading into the tournament and could have the opportunity to wrestle Royal’s Jacob Hansen, who beat Munoz in the finals of the Tournament of Champions earlier this season in a tech fall.
“I’ve been improving on my shots, on my neutral so I hope I’ll be able to get some takedowns on him and one thing I did not get to try was my top game on him, so if I wrestle again I’m definitely going to pick top so I can see what I can do,” Munoz said.
With hill runs outside the gym behind them, the Vikings are focused on climbing the next hill that is CIT. The tournament is scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Morro Bay High School.
“It’s going to be tough,” said coach Brian Peterson. “There’s a lot of good schools. Any time we have that many teams, you’re going to have studs. Even from teams that aren’t that good, everybody has one great guy. So with that many teams, every weight class is stacked.”