Genaro Estrada claimed the title of NCS Champion for AHS after 13 years

Sanika Gavankar

Senior Staff Writer

    What was originally an effort to lose weight, morphed into becoming the North Coast Section (NCS) Champion. Genaro Estrada is the first wrestler to claim 1st place at NCS since 2013, when Jarad Luty won the title as a freshman.

    Genaro Estrada started his wrestling career in a mere effort to lose weight. He made the decision to join the wrestling team and first stepped on the mat in 7th grade.

    “I was often bullied for being overweight,” Estrada (12) said. “Wrestling was known for being one of the toughest sports out there and I wanted to make a drastic change for myself, so I entered.”

    Over the course of several months, Genaro Estrada worked on perfecting his mental state during wrestling. He knew he was set physically but he realized that winning too much has made him boastful. Constantly winning last year put him in a mindset that he was undefeatable and realized it was an important thing to change if he wanted to do better this year.

    “I went undefeated last year,” Estrada explained. “Winning over and over again got to my head and it ended up inflating my ego. I realized that it was a poor trait to have so I focused on not being too cocky and having more respect for my opponents.”

    In order to move onto NCS, a wrestler needs to go through a succession of matches at MVALS. Usually, a wrestler must place top 3 in his league and weight class bracket to go onto the next part. In Genaro’s case, there were only 3 players at MVALs for his weight bracket including himself, so he was automatically placed 1st in top 3 to go to NCS.

    Estrada’s hard work did not stop there. Like all wrestlers, they are put in seeds based on where the organizers predict you will win. He was placed in the 1st seed and had to win in total of 5 matches to win at NCS. There’s an added catch, though. In NCS, one loss can jeopardize your chance at winning 1st and 2nd place. In order to place 3rd, you have to ensure that you only lose one match but the others have to be consecutive wins.     

    Nerve-racking right? The whole idea that only one match, one loss, can make or break a wrestler’s chances of being an NCS champ was extremely stressful for Genaro, and it got to a lot of his teammates’ heads. Lucky for him, he has been working on ways to destress himself and keep calm during his matches since the beginning of this year’s season. He has forced himself into a routine that he follows the morning of all his matches, and it has proven to help him a lot.

    “The methods I would [use are] very unique to me,” he started. “Before the whole day starts [at 6 AM in the morning], I do meditative stretching. Right after that, I’m dancing to my favorite songs. Whether it is outside the tournament or inside, I just dance away. I don’t care who is looking – I do it to calm myself down, and it always helps when I am stressed.”

    At the end of what seemed like forever, Genaro swooped the title of NCS Champion. He felt that all his hard work this year had paid off, and was also proud of all his teammates for making it so far.

    Most think that this is one of Genaro’s biggest accomplishments, but he thinks otherwise. He believes that his biggest accomplishment was testing his limits and going through matches that tested him as an individual. There were quite a few spread throughout the season, but there is only one in particular that he remembers and holds very dear to him: he went against an opponent of the same weight class and speed from Lower Lake. The match lasted almost 8 minutes, an unusually long amount of time for a match, but in the end Estrada was victorious and left with knowledge of his endurance.

    “We pushed ourselves to the limit,” he explained. “That moment [when] I got to see where the line was and seeing if I had the heart to push past it was [the most] important moment for me.”

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