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Another growth spurt for California’s Valencia
By Rob Sherrill
Fresh off dominating the 132-pound weight class in California, junior Zahid Valencia of Bellflower St. John Bosco is through cutting weight again … for another six months or so.
Valencia put together an unbeaten season which started with a victory in the Walsh Ironman in December, where he beat five-time Kentucky champion Brock Ervin of Morganfield Union County in the finals and ended it with his second California state title, a meet in which he pinned four of his opponents, with the other match ending in a 10-1 major decision.
The next time Valencia set foot on the mat, the 132-pound class was squarely in the rear-view mirror. Heading off to the CA Deposit-USA Wrestling Junior Folkstyle Nationals at Cedar Falls, Iowa, Valencia jumped three weight classes — all the way to 152 — and dominated once again, winning a weight class which boasted three other ranked wrestlers and two more who just missed the cut.
In succession, Valencia beat two-time Oklahoma champion Joe Smith of Stillwater in the quarterfinals, four-time Kansas champion Tagen Lambotte of Rossville in the semifinals and two-time Wisconsin champion Jared Scharenbrock of Sun Prairie in the final. All three competed either at 145 or 152 in their state tournaments this year.
Two weeks later, he competed at 145.5 pounds in the FILA Junior Nationals at Las Vegas, finishing third in Greco-Roman. The only prep to place in the top eight at the weight class, Valencia roared through the consolation bracket with four technical falls after being pinned in his first match. Valencia also advanced to the freestyle quarterfinals before being knocked out of the medals by a pair of losses to collegians.
Last year, Valencia experienced a similar growth spurt. After finishing third in the state tournament at 113 in 2012, he moved up to 120 and won the Folkstyle Nationals. And he wasn’t done. He posted a 9-2 record in the Junior National Duals at 126 and 132 pounds, then added a double Cadet Nationals title at 126. Valencia closed his week at Fargo by winning his final 19 bouts. In freestyle, he was unstoppable, going 10-0 with nine technical falls and allowing only six points.
Valencia and his talented brother, Anthony, each moved up three weight classes last season. Now at his natural weight of 170, Anthony won’t undergo a similar growth spurt again.
But Zahid could. And, as he’s showing two off-seasons in a row, eating and lifting are resulting in winning.