YOU ARE HERE: IVPress HomeCollections

Villagran headed to national tournament

April 03, 2002|By ERIC GALVAN

Sports Writer

Throughout his high school career, Brawley Union High wrestler David Villagran had a goals on the mat.

As seasons passed, he checked off each goal as he fulfilled most by his sophomore year.

But through his first three years there was still one goal that was barely out of his reach, a goal that he had gotten close to accomplishing on two occasions.

Finally, after three years of hard work, dedication and desire to accomplish that final goal, he achieved it March 2 as he placed eighth at the CIF state tournament in Stockton, qualifying for the national high school wrestling tournament in Cleveland this weekend.

"Making it to state has been my goal since I was a freshman. I think if you ask most high school wrestlers, that's what they try for," said the 18-year-old senior. "But now that I've made it, right now, I feel like I have a lot on my shoulders because I'm representing all of California, not just the Imperial Valley."


After qualifying for nationals at 112 pounds, Villagran will drop to the 106-pound division, which is where he wrestled the past few seasons.

While dropping weight could be difficult for most wrestlers, for Villagran the move is all part of extra challenges he's put himself through the entire season, which started in November.

He entered the year ready to compete at 106 pounds but decided to test his skills by moving up to 112. After dominating the 106-pound division the previous three years, he proved to be the best in his class at 112 pounds as he swept the Imperial Valley League and had little trouble winning a CIF San Diego Section Division IV championship.

"I felt strong at that weight. I think wrestling at 112 pounds really helped with my quickness and my technique," said Villagran. "At the beginning of the year I wanted to move up a weight so I could test my skills and I really think that helped me a lot."

Villagran has worked day-in and day-out seemingly every day since his freshman year, but really took his workout regimen to the next level this year. While training during the regular season and postseason, part of his workout included running four to five miles a day, two miles in the morning and three in the evenings, followed by two hours of work on the mat.

It is the work that he's put in and the dedication that he's had for the sport that Brawley assistant varsity coach Victor Martinez said helps Villagran separate himself from his competition.

"We could see it in him. We could see that he had the potential to make it to nationals. We knew that out of everybody, he had the best chance of making it," said Martinez. "He's had the goal set for himself for quite some time and he just seemed more determined this year to make it.

"I think with the work that he's put in … the time and dedication, he has a real good chance at nationals," said Martinez. "He's been wrestling the highest level of competition since he was a freshman, so I think he'll be ready for this."

What Martinez thinks also will work in Villagran's favor is the competition he's faced in California, which Martinez said has been a power at national meets. Martinez said in certain instances, California wrestlers who placed fifth or sixth at state meets have gone on to win national titles.

What Villagran will try to avoid is replicating last year's Imperial Valley wrestlers who qualified for nationals. A.J. Smith of Imperial and Hector Carrillo of Brawley made it to nationals but both went 0-2.

"For me, this year has probably been the best year for me so far. Every match I've wrestled, I wrestled like it was my last," said Villagran. "That's how I'm going to approach this. I'm not really nervous about it. I'm more excited than anything else. I just want to wrestle the best. They say that to be the best, you have to wrestle and beat the best.

"Getting there, for me, isn't good enough. Not placing would be a disappointment to me. I have to bring back some hardware."

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles