One day in the not-too-distant future some researcher will discover a genetic marker in the human bloodstream that identifies wrestlers.
No one who truly knows wrestlers will be surprised. They already know that the world’s oldest sport gets into the blood of its participants and fans.
“Oh I believe that completely – wrestling gets in your blood and it stays there,” Abel DeLaRosa said. “I know it runs deep in my family. I grew up in Sunnyside and we were all crazy about wrestling.”
DeLaRosa’s passion pours forth when he talks about the sport. Even more so when he talks about his son.
Alius DeLaRosa is one of four Spokane Valley wrestlers to help lead a Washington state team to a pair of trophies at the National Schoolboy Dual Team Tournament in Indianapolis earlier this month. The team posted the state’s best finish at the tournament, placing second in Greco-Roman and fourth in freestyle.
The Schoolboy tournament is for 13- and 14-year-olds. To earn a spot on the team, wrestlers need impressive credentials.
“For these kids, wrestling is something they work at for nine or 10 months out of the year,” DeLaRosa said. “That’s what you have to do if you want to wrestle at this kind of an elite level. This was an incredible tournament. There were some of the most incredible wrestlers there, superstars, really. You just watched them and went, ‘wow.’ And our kids wrestled them and did really well.
“But that’s what you have to do if you’re going to excel in this sport. You have to push yourself and keep yourself in top condition. And you have to seek out and compete against the best competition you can find.”
All four Spokane Valley wrestlers made their way onto the tournament team by being a champion.
DeLaRosa, who wrestled at 98 pounds and was a team co-captain, is a state champion in three wresting styles: Greco-Roman, freestyle and folkstyle (also known as collegiate).
“They told us going in that 98 pounds is the toughest weight class at this level,” Abel DeLaRosa said. “You have to be ready for it and, wow, they weren’t kidding.”
Cam Sorensen, a 105-pounder who will wrestle as a freshman at University High in the fall, is a state champion at both freeestyle and Greco-Roman and placed second at folkstyle. During the team’s match in Indiana, Sorenson pinned a national champion.
Braedon Orrino, a 120-pounder and incoming freshman at Central Valley High, is a state freestyle champion who placed second at both folkstyle and Greco-Roman. He, too, knocked off a national champion at the tournament by posting a technical fall.
Trey Meyer, a 120-pounder who will be an eighth-grader at East Valley Middle School in the fall, placed second in the state in freestyle and fourth in folkstyle. Ranked third at 120-pounds during the selection, Meyer earned a spot on the team by being the best conditioned athlete on the team and competed at 128.
Each had a winning record at the tournament.
In placing second in Greco-Roman, the Washington squad was undefeated in its pool, defeating teams from Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Maryland, Minnesota and Oklahoma.
In the championship round, the team posted wins over Ohio, Wisconsin and Indiana before falling to Illinois in the title match.
In freestyle, Washington was a second seed coming out of its pool, beating teams from Pennsylvania-Red, Indiana, Michigan and Georgia, but falling to Illinois and Missouri.
In the championship round, Washington knocked off New Jersey and Oklahoma, but lost to Ohio in the semifinal match and to Pennsylvania-Blue in the match for third and fourth place.
“The atmosphere for this tournament was incredible,” Abel DeLaRosa said. “The competition was intense. There were teams coached by national collegiate champions and there were college coaches all over the place. Not only were they coaching their own kids, they’d stop and coach kids from other teams.
“That’s what I love so much about wrestling. It’s like one big family. Sure there are some who take the competition to the extreme. But most people are there to support the sport. It was great that these kids got the chance to be a part of that.”
DeLaRosa expects all four to find a great deal of success.
Alius DeLaRosa will wrestle at Post Falls, his father said. And at his weight class, his son expects to challenge for an Idaho state championship next year.
“I think both Cam and Braeden can both be state champions next year, too,” the coach said. “And I think Trey is a little bummed out that he won’t get to compete with these guys next year because he still has another year of middle school before he can wrestle for East Valley.
“For all four of these guys, the common denominator between them all is their love of competition. They’re close enough in weight that they’ve wrestled each other for years already. That’s what helps them excel.”