Mando’s destiny depends on sponsors

15-year-old grappler Armando Gonzalez, on top, goes through some

Freshman wrestler qualifies for Cadet Nationals, needs community
support to make trip
GILROY – Freshman Armando Gonzalez has never let anyone or anything stand in his way when it comes to wrestling.

“I don’t like to lose,” said Gonzalez, taking a break from his daily workout with the Gilroy Hawks Wrestling Club.

After four straight Santa Clara County Championships while wrestling for South Valley Junior High, Gonzalez stepped right up to the varsity level and proved he’s no ordinary freshman – winning the league title and then the section championship at 125 pounds.

But Gonzalez, 15, still wasn’t satisfied – going to the state championships in Stockton and coming away with a disappointing 1-2 record. Ever since, the young grappler has been hitting the weight room and the wrestling room – sculpting his body and perfecting his moves with a stiff determination to become the best.

“I thought about taking a break before the high school states, but then I lost. Ever since then, I’ve been determined. I don’t want to fall short next year,” Gonzalez said. “Since the high school states, I’ve improved a lot on my wrestling.”

Gonzalez took his lingering frustrations from the high school state meet out on the mat – placing second in the California Cadet State Championships (frosh/soph age group) and qualifying for the Nationals in July in Fargo, North Dakota. The national event is the largest wrestling tournament in the world and the most prestigious for these age groups in the nation.

“I just love to wrestle and love being on the mat and again I don’t like losing,” said Gonzalez. “I think it’s going to be really tough, but I want to place top three. I’m going to have to be in really good shape.”

However, his berth into the national championship put an unexpected roadblock in his way. The cost for each wrestler varies from $900 to $1,200 depending on the style and the combination they compete in. Gonzalez qualified in freestyle wrestling – which is one of the Olympic styles of wrestling.

“This is the nationals. This is the goal of all the kids who wrestle – to be national champion. That’s as high as it gets. It’s absolutely the best wrestlers in the nation,” Hawks’ assistant coach Mike Koester said. “This is the only national championship recognized.”

Anyone interested in sponsoring this young warrior, should call Gilroy Hawks’ head coach Armando Gonzalez Sr. at 802-1057. Any donation is tax deductible and if you need the tax id numbers and 501c3 numbers you can contact Greg Chappel, California Team Coach, at email [email protected] or address 1568 Winsor Way, Brentwood, Ca 94513. Please make checks payable to California USA Wrestling, with Armando Gonzalez’s name on the check and forward it to, 1140 Violet Way, Gilroy CA 94020.

“I think Armando is doing all the things he has to do to get ready for nationals. He continues to improve,” Coach Gonzalez said. “I’m confident he can go over there and bring home a medal.”

The national berth also allows Gonzalez to partake in a two-week national team wrestling camp – where he will learn and practice with the best grapplers throughout the country.

“The whole thing is for the experience he’s going to get,” Coach Gonzalez said. “I’m proud of the dedication he’s shown since the high school season. He hasn’t taken any days off. He’s always in the weight room or on the mat.”

Gonzalez, who maintains a 3.0 grade-point-average at GHS, has kept busy in the high school offseason – also placing fifth in the nation at the Reno Worlds. In addition, he finished fifth in the California Junior (frosh to senior) State Championships and has been invited to be on the California Junior National Dual Team.

“At Cadets, he tech-ed or pinned everyone until the finals. He totally dominated everyone,” said Koester, noting his only loss by a slim 2-1 margin was to the national champ Billy Murphy. “Him and Armando have been battling each other since they were little.

In all, Gonzalez has wrestled more than 50 matches since the high school season and he wants to add to that total – but he needs some community support to get him there.

“At this time, we’re pretty tapped out,” Coach Gonzalez said. “That’s why we’re calling on the Dispatch and the community to open the doors for a dedicated wrestler like Armando.”

Hawks’ teammates Chad Haygood, Mark Zabala and John Gurich are also petitioning for the two-week camp. Haygood was out with a thumb injury during the qualifying tournament – but he was part of the national team practices last year as well as Gurich. Haygood took fifth in the Reno Worlds before breaking his thumb.

“You have three practices per day and you’ve got to get up early and run,” Haygood said. “I’ve never been away from my home like that. But in the end, it was all worth it. You don’t know what it’s like until you go… It helped me a lot for the last wrestling season.”