Although the prep wrestling season is over, Valencia’s Ben Gould is far from done competing.
“I just want to ride out my senior year, go out with a bang and enjoy it before freshman year of college,” Gould said. “Wrestle (at) the highest level I can while I’m still in high school.”
Gould followed up his third-place performance at the CIF state tournament in February with a second-place finish at the USA Wrestling Folkstyle Nationals on Saturday at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Representing Peterson Grapplers, he went 4-1 in the 195-pound weight class at the folkstyle tournament, which features the same style of wrestling seen at the high school level. However, Gould said the wrestling style can vary depending on the region.
“Kids from all around the states are competing at this tournament, so the top five guys from each state you’re going to be wrestling,” said the senior. “The midwest has a completely different style, so it allows you to wrestle wrestlers who wrestle completely different from anyone else.”
He beat Aurelius Krumholz in a 9-1 major decision in the first round, then beat Stephen White, a state champion in Kansas with a 3-1 decision.
In the quarterfinals, Gould beat Marshall Kools in a 5-2 decision, then Micah Downs in a 5-1 decision in the semifinals.
Kyle Haas beat Gould in a 3-0 decision in the finals.
His second-place finish earned him a spot on the USA National Team, which will allow Gould to compete at even more national tournaments with the USA high school team.
It’s also a big improvement from his first national tournament, the Super 32, in which he went 0-2 in his matches.
“Just how prepared I was,” Gould said of the difference since last year. “How much work I was putting in before the tournament. The gym, practice, the amount of work I’ve put in the whole season has been paying off.”
Gould also had a teammate with him for this tournament. Braden Smelser, who also wrestled for Valencia this season, went 1-2 at the event.
“It was like a 3-man team there with my sparring partner, with my coach,” he said. “It was nice having someone there to talk with and drill with for any sort of position or mental game.”
Gould plans to wrestle in college, but has a few visits to take before he makes a final decision. Until then, he’ll be at tournaments including the Freestyle Nationals and Greco-Roman Nationals, the two other events in addition to the Folkstyle Nationals in the “Triple Crown.”
“Competing as much as I can and just going out and enjoying it,” he said.