Jason Arreola says this wrestling season was a tough journey. Hard core conditioning, watching every bite to ensure he made weight but still had the energy he needed, and intense dedication to his academics made the season a daily struggle.
However, the biggest challenge Jason faced was mental. “I had to learn to embrace the grind…I had to overcome my attitude and think more positive,” says the junior business administration major from Anaheim, Calif. Transferring at the beginning of the year from Santa Ana College, Jason says he missed the support of being near friends and family during his first season at York College. It was tough to find the motivation to dig deep and do the work. “Being able to push through has made me a stronger person,” he says.
Arreola finished the season strong, placing 4th in the 133-pound weight class at the NAIA national collegiate wrestling tournament, held in Des Moines, Iowa, March 1 and 2. The sacrifice and hard work paid off, as Arreola was named an All-American for the second time in his career.
Arreola says the support he found with the YC coaching staff made all the difference. He credits Head Coach Ramon Diaz with teaching him how to cut weight healthfully so that he could not only weigh less but also be stronger. “He showed me how to do it right,” says Arreola. “It really helped my performance this year, definitely. I really felt a big difference.”
Associate Head Coach Greg Smith helped him with extra conditioning, giving him an edge on his competition. “I do a lot of sprints on my own. I wake up early in the mornings; I try to do things that are going to separate me from my opponents….going and getting early morning workouts, doing sprints, lifting weights, coming to practice, on top of that, I would still go out and workout on my own again, so I’d get three to four workouts a day.” He could feel the improvement in the lack of fatigue and his strength on the mat, he says.
Smith also helped him improve his technique, especially hand fighting and position.
“The coaches really support the wrestlers and show them a lot of love,” says Arreola. “They are there for them in whatever way they need. They are very understanding.”
Diaz says that he had planned to redshirt Arreola this year so that the transfer could focus on his academics and integrating into a new college. However, when a spot opened up on the team, Arreola was eager to fill in.
At the national competition, “I went in there definitely as a dark horse. I wasn’t ranked,” he says. But all of his hard work paid off when Arreola was perfect for the first day’s matches. He won 12-4 over Miguel Baltazar from Southern Oregon Univ., and then won a 7-5 decision over Jacob McCombs of Lindsey Wilson.
On day two, he fell 2-3 to Cameron Neiss of MSU – Northern, and then had a rematch with Baltazar, winning 10-3. In the final match he lost 3-10 to Angel Garcia of Menlo College for his fourth place finish. On the season, Arreola was 16-6.
While Arreola says he’s enjoying the off-season, especially the lack of calorie restriction, he is looking forward to next year. “The ultimate goal, obviously, is to become national champion,” he says, “but definitely to keep doing well in school…that’s my main focus, really.”
Diaz says in addition to his skills on the mat, Arreola adds a quiet leadership to the team that is important to their overall success. “He’s really quiet, but he always takes care of his business. He’s always here, he’s always on time, he’s always about his purpose…Athletes look up to that and they respect that.”
“I look forward to great things from him,” says Diaz.
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