Valencia wrestler Braden Smelser couldn’t compete in the first tournament of the season due to an ankle injury. In the second tournament, he was pitted against the No. 4 wrestler in the state.
In the third tournament, the Hawk’s Nest Invitational at Citrus High School in Perris, Smelser, the No. 13 wrestler in the state at 160, got through five matches in the tournament to meet with the Tyler Sepulveda of Selma, the No. 14 wrestler at 152 in the finals.
The match went into overtime, but Smelser was able to win by one point and secure the 170 title on Saturday.
“The guy was very defensive, so I knew I could beat him in the match,” Smelser said. “I had the potential because he was playing more defense and he got more tired than I did, so I knew I had more in the tank. Once it went into overtime he was a lot more tired than I was, so I knew I could score him.”
Smelser said that he dedicated more time to conditioning in the week leading up to the Hawk’s Nest Invitational, which began on Friday. Instead of running two miles after practices, he ran three.
The team ran suicides across the mat inside and added sprints to the usual wrestling and drilling. It all paid off when Smelser reached overtime at the tournament.
Additionally, he felt better prepared mentally after he wrestled the No. 4 wrestler in the week prior.
“I had the No. 4 in the state so I didn’t really wrestle to my capabilities,” he said. “I kind of let it get to my head a little bit. I got in a lot better shape over the week … and also my mentality was a little better going into it. I didn’t really care about rank.”
As a team, the Vikings came in ninth out of 51 teams at the tournament.
Trent Munoz, a junior, also came in first at 160 — his third title of the season. His brother, Alex, a freshman, took fifth at 145 and junior Kyle Roth was eighth in the 152 division.
“The kids that were sophomores last year, Trent and Kyle, they’re a lot better from last year,” Smelser said. “Trent has been destroying people at tournaments and the weekend before, he got outstanding wrestler. He’s definitely got steps in the right direction.”
Next up for Valencia is the Ed Springs Holiday Classic on Friday and Saturday at Brea-Olinda High School.
Lopez takes title at Hueneme Girls
American Lopez, who came in sixth at the CIF State tournament last season, won the 189 title as well as MVP honors at the Hueneme Girls tournament on Saturday.
Also for the Vikings, Kiani Downey won fourth place in the 106-pound division.