Wrestling: One Family


The Sierra Vista Wrestling Team and their families during senior night, credit: sierravistwrestling.lv

Aidan Operana, Guest Staff Reporter

As one of two current seniors that have been wrestling for Sierra Vista since freshman year, I can safely say that the Sierra Vista Wrestling Team has come a long way in the past two years, and this season they have truly made their mark. Despite being overlooked and counted out in the past, the team exceeded expectations and made school history! 

Although there have been bright spots that have come through the program, historically, the Sierra Vista Wrestling program has underperformed. A losing culture manifested in various ways such as an unkept wrestling room that was nearly falling apart and an overall lack of support for the program. During my freshman year, the atmosphere was abysmal. Opposing teams had more attendees at every home dual meet and the roof was falling in the wrestling room. However, under the guidance of Head Coach Brett Terry and his new coaching staff, the program has undergone a significant transformation. 

Coach Terry, a former assistant coach from Palo Verde, began coaching as a means of giving back. “I was a terrible kid in high school and if it were not for a few coaches that cared, who knows where I would be today,” Terry says. He has turned his past experiences into motivation to help others succeed which is shown by his dedication to the Sierra Vista Wrestling Program. Whether it be registering for out-of-state tournaments or relentlessly badgering the administration to improve the conditions of the wrestling room, he has gone above and beyond in his role as head coach. However, he gives all the credit to his coaching staff Kiko Arceo, Caleb San Nicholas, and Camille DeKyser who have played a key role in working with the wrestlers one on one, promoting the team on social media, and improving the culture. Specifically, he would like to give credit to Kiko Arceo who is affectionately known by the wrestlers as “Uncle Kiko”. Over the season, he went out of his way to open up his home to anyone who wanted to improve their technique and paint the room. “Without his help, none of our success would have been possible,” says Terry. 

In the wrestling room, star seniors Joshua Arceo, Aaron Garcia, Reese Pasion, and Saygent Antonio led the way. Joshua Arceo, the returning 138lb 4A state champion, has been wrestling for 13 years and has played a key role in the team’s success. After transferring to Sierra Vista from Valley High School during his Junior year, he made an immediate impact by inspiring those around him to push themselves and break their limits. Aaron Garcia, a returning 113lb State Finalist, is the other senior rather than myself that has been wrestling for Sierra Vista since his freshman year. Underclassmen look up to him as a role model due to his work ethic and dedication to the sport. Saygent Antonio and Reese Pasion are second-year wrestlers at Sierra Vista that have quickly made their mark due to their intense focus and infectious passion for the sport. During preseason, the energy in the wrestling room was unmatched, a perfect beginning to a promising season.

To get the season rolling, the team saw major success at the annual Newcomers Tournament for first-year and JV wrestlers. This set the tone for the varsity lineup as they entered their first tournament of the season at the Western Duals. Although some wrestlers struggled with weight issues and the team saw mixed results, the atmosphere in the wrestling room remained intense and the team only grew more focused as they progressed. At the Moon Valley Tournament in Arizona, the team saw major success as many brought home medals, and Aaron Garcia was crowned champion at 113 lbs. The team’s momentum only grew as they cruised through league dual meets with Rancho and Bonanza and placed third at the Spring Valley Duals among a mix of 5A and 4A teams. Contrary to my freshman year, the stands were packed at every home dual meet. For me, it was a surreal experience walking out to the mat and seeing a sea of blue filled with friends, family, teachers, and staff chanting my name and cheering me on. The energy of the crowd was infectious throughout the season and motivated the team to put on a show. 

A highlight of the season came during a mid-January home dual against perennial favorites Bishop Gorman. Sparked by upset victories by Sophomore Gordon Austin and Senior Deogratias Mayela, the Mountain Lions comfortably knocked off the Gaels finishing with a final team score of 42-27. This victory was a key turning point in the season as it gave the team validation that their hard work has been paying off and that they were capable of achieving something special. This moment came only weeks after when the Mountain Lions became the Class 4A Mountain League Champions for only the 2nd time in school history on Senior Night! Notably, Senior Joshua Arceo achieved his 150th career victory, a remarkable achievement for the standout captain. 

Heading into the Regional Tournament, the stakes were high for the boys and our wrestlers delivered. In total, 16 boys qualified for the state tournament by placing top six in their weight classes. 

Saygent Antonio (Sr. 106) Aaron Garcia (Sr. 113) Sebastian Quintana (Fr. 120) Renz Soniga (So. 126) Aidan Operana (Sr. 126) Sebastian Arellanes (So. 132) 

Robert Salehi (Jr. 132) Joshua Arceo (Sr. 138) Gordon Austin (So.144)) Cameron Mamon (Jr. 150) Mark-Jacob Cruz (So. 157) Deogratias Mayela (Sr. 165) 

Prince Watson (Jr. 175) Anthony Gutierrez (Sr. 175) Reese Pasion (Sr. 190) Dexter Donaugh (So. 215) 

As a team, Sierra Vista placed second in the region based on the accumulation of individual performances. 

Only days after the beginning of the boy’s postseason, the girls had the opportunity to punch their way to the state championships in Winnemucca in the all-girls regional tournament held at SLAM Academy. In what Coach Terry called “the toughest tournament, boys or girls, all year”, Kailike Madalora, Kanae Madalora, Mia Gabriel, Taylor Rogers, and Unique Salcedo were

standouts. Impressively, Junior Kayli Pham was able to place 4th in a bracket of 64 wrestlers to become a state qualifier! 

Kayli Pham (Jr. 100) 

At the final tournament of the season, the boys sought glory at the 4A State Championships held at Western High School. After the parade of champions which celebrated the accomplishments of each school’s state qualifiers, the first whistle blew and our wrestlers got to business. The boys showed courage and sportsmanship as some saw their seasons end and others saw their dreams become reality. By the end of the day, we had an impressive four state placers! 

Sebastian Quintana (3rd) Sebastian Arrelanes (3rd) 

Anthony Gutierrez (3rd) Reese Pasion (4th) 

Finally, to cap off our season, Joshua Arceo captured his second state championship at 138 lbs cementing his legacy as the greatest wrestler to ever wear a Sierra Vista singlet. 

Joshua Arceo (CHAMPION) 

It was heartwarming to see the program and its athletes finally receive the recognition and support they deserved, and it showed in our performance on the mat. The newfound pride and sense of community within the program were palpable and will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on future generations of Sierra Vista wrestlers. 

Although this season was historical, it is only the beginning for Sierra Vista Wrestling. The wrestlers are hungry for more and have their sights set on one goal: a team state title. However, despite the outcome or any title that may come, the comradery between teammates and grit that our wrestlers have shown have undoubtedly transformed the culture of the program and will carry on for years to come. I am proud to call myself a Sierra Vista wrestler and will always consider it a privilege to have been a part of such a special program.