AWP was fortunate enough to chat with Sunnyside coaches Anthony Leon and Fernando Villascuesa about RMN Duals and hosting Grand Canyon Nationals in November. As far as bringing a dual team to RMN this year, Coach Leon says they’re very excited because it is a fun event with lots of action –perfect for Sunnyside’s competitive team in search of competitive and exciting matches. That’s definitely the attitude to have, as Team Kansas will also be in attendance. Kansas has been the team to beat year after year; they’re a team decorated with several state champs. “We’re delighted for the challenge!” exclaimed Coach Leon. “Our guys are honored, but at the same time, we’ve done pretty well in these duals, I don’t see this any differently.” Coach Leon has a philosophy of consistency: no single match is more or less important than another. “They’re a great team and it will be an honor to take them on,” Leon continues, but Sunnyside will go into this match with the same dedication and preparation they give every match. Coach Villaescusa added that there is an interesting distinction between the two teams. Sunnyside is a club that has its roots in the neighborhood around the school. There’s a unique spirit at Sunnyside. “These kids’ family members wrestled at Sunnyside, it has become a family tradition.”
In addition to staying consistent in their approach to each match, Leon emphasizes proper warm-ups, nutrition, and hydration –those physical aspects are just as important to mental preparedness as anything else. When asked what it means to compete at RMN duals and at RMN events in general, Coach Leon expressed excitement and humble gratitude: “RMN is historic and we’re very blessed to be a part of it. We’ll take this opportunity and make the best of it.”
The team is really looking forward to taking on the role of host team for a national event for the first time. “It puts Arizona wrestling on the map. In the past, we’ve been disrespected with our level of representation in the wrestling world, but we consistently turn out great wrestlers” replied Leon. Coach Villaescusa also pointed out that this could help make Grand Canyon Nationals a premier tournament event similar to Ironman or Beast of the East. “Arizona is centrally located in the West, we’re close to California, New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada. It’s a great opportunity for kids in the area. Travel costs and accommodations are also reasonable and affordable. Not to mention high competition.”
So what are the team’s goals for 2017? The strategy of consistency also characterizes their ambitions. “Our goals really don’t change from year to year,” says Leon “we want to bring state championships to Sunnyside and to help each individual on the team maximize their potential, chase their dreams to the highest levels –even Olympic level.” There is no doubt Sunnyside has the talent for all of those ambitions. The entire team shows promise. They all stand out, but just to give us an idea, Coach Leon quickly mentions Jesse Ybarra, a freshman in 1st weight class, he is currently ranked #1 in future Olympic rankings. Manny Garcia is described as one of the favorites to win. Roman Bravo-Young “won everything there is to win in nationals, and won both Greco and Freestyle two years in a row. David Salazar and Jose Rubio are also great competitors. With a team as talented as Sunnyside, though, each and every member stands out. Collectively, they are a real force in the wrestling world –make sure to watch their every move in RMN Duals and competitions throughout the year!