Early this season, Woodinville coach Todd Christensen was asked about his two seniors, Paco Becerra and Braulio Arroyo.
“The main thing about them is that they’re extremely committed individuals,” Christensen said. “They’re both pretty quiet, and they’re the first ones in here getting things set up and they’re the last ones to leave. They’re always helping people. They’re great all-around kids who have devoted themselves to wrestling.”
Just two years ago, Woodinville wrestling was 0-8 in KingCo 4A. But this year the Falcons went 6-1, with their only conference loss being to undefeated Issaquah. Now, as the season progresses into its post season, Becerra and Arroyo reflected on the transformation.
“It has been exciting and people have really been putting their effort into it,” Becerra said.
“I feel like it was coming because the team was definitely solid,” Arroyo said. “It wasn’t from a lack of skill or work ethic, it was the lack of numbers that was holding us back.”
The two boys have known each other since kindergarten but have only wrestled for a handful of years. Becerra loved watching WWF wrestling as a kid, imitating wrestlers like The Rock and The Undertaker.
“Me and my cousin used to try different WWF moves,” Becerra said. “It was kind of dumb but a lot of fun. I’d go, ‘Hey I’m so-and-so, let me try this move on you!’”
Arroyo, on the other hand, had a different view.
“I was never into [pro wrestling] at all,” he said. “I thought it was a joke.”
But when the boys entered Woodinville High School, competitive wrestling became a passion.
“I remember my first match,” Becerra said. “I didn’t use any technique that I would be using right now. I tried to tackle the kid because I had no idea what I was doing. But by the end of my sophomore year I started using the techniques the coaches were teaching,” he said. “I hadn’t won a single match all year until we went to a JV tourney in Olympia. I won three of four matches. I was freaking out and it was one of the best moments I’ve had.”
“As soon as I got into my sophomore year I realized it was what I wanted to do,” Arroyo said. “I started to progress through and realized I wanted to get good at this.”
That drive to succeed included recruiting. In the recent past, Woodinville had suffered from low roster numbers. But that all changed after an all-out effort from players and coaches.
“The main idea, for me at least, was not to emphasize just getting numbers out,” Arroyo said. “I wanted to emphasize getting people who would actually be dedicated. A lot of people don’t realize how much wrestling takes. We try to have a welcoming atmosphere because it can be intense at times. And the more welcoming and camaraderie we can develop, the more people can get through the season and enjoy it.”
As of this writing, Becerra and Arroyo were preparing for their District meet at Skyline High School. No matter what happens, nobody can take away their second place finish in KingCo 4A.
“This year I’m doing what I like to do and wrestling as hard as I can to win,” Becerra said. “And I’ve enjoyed our coaches. They’re always there to help you out. Sometimes coaches I’ve played for in other sports, they aren’t there to help you. But coach Christensen and coach Hitzemann, they don’t have favorite people, they help everyone. That’s what got me into the sport. They worked hard to help me even when I wasn’t good at the sport. They don’t play favorites, they just like to help everyone out. And now I’m just enjoying every moment of my senior season.”
Results of Feb 4th KingCo Tourney
1st Place – Drew Christensen – 152 – Sophomore
3rd Place – Ian Tsang – 126 – Junior
3rd Place – Andrew Campton – 132 – Senior
4th Place – Jace Gill – 126 – Sophomore
4th Place – Braulio Arroyo – 170 – Senior
4th Place – Paco Becerra – 220 – Senior
5th Place – Kristopher Edwish – 182 – Sophomore
6th Place – Tuan Ha – 113 – Sophomore