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Sports >  High school sports

GSL wrestling: Gonzaga Prep’s Q’veli Quintanilla carries on family tradition inside the circle

Mead’s Ryan Clark, who has placed second and third at state, practices Tuesday in the mat room.  (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Mead’s Ryan Clark, who has placed second and third at state, practices Tuesday in the mat room. (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
By Justin Reed For The Spokesman-Review

State championships run in Quintanilla blood.

Eight titles across nine wrestling seasons is a ratio that can’t be ignored.

When wrestling runs in the family, you wrestle.

That is where Gonzaga Prep sophomore Q’veli Quintanilla finds himself, smack dab in the middle of a wrestling family dynasty.

A mere 24 hours after he was born, the family – including Quintanilla – was attending his brother’s wrestling tournament.

“We knew wrestling to take us places, to college, to meet new people, travel around the country,” Quintanilla said.

“And so, with three brothers, two older brothers and one younger brother, we were very competitive. We always wanted to beat each other at anything that we did.”

Quintanilla started at age 4 and has wrestled for school and club since. He won a state title at 145 pounds last season – just another championship to add to the family name.

First it was Izaec (three titles), then Clai (first Greater Spokane League four-time state champion) building the foundation before Q’veli.

Izaec and Clai wrestled at North Central, but Q’veli wanted to forge his own path outside of his brothers’ shadows.

Q’veli trained with his club at G-Prep and has a friend who went there.

“I just wanted something new, but don’t get me wrong, I loved NC,” he said. “… The coaches were super nice to our family. The wrestlers were awesome.”

Athletes need daily gym time, and the pandemic presented a situation that forced them to find their own ways to stay in shape.

“I had to do a lot of working out by myself at home. I worked a lot on just rehab, making sure my body stays in shape for whatever comes up,” Quintanilla said.

G-Prep wrestling coach Danny Pearson said that challenges are just opportunities. The challenge of not having a regular season forced wrestlers to find national tournaments to keep their skills fresh.

Quintanilla has wrestled at Super 32 Challenge, Junior World Team Trials, USA Wrestling National Recruiting Showcase. He also was a Fargo All-American his eighth-grade year.

Those tournaments are where the nation’s top wrestlers go to test their merit. What allows Quintanilla to be special are the tournaments he attends because of the goals he sets.

Most high school wrestlers shoot for a state tournament berth, some shoot for the title itself. While those goals are still involved, Quintanilla is looking toward college, All-American status, the Olympics.

“That’s where he’s willing to be on a wrestling mat six days a week, even when we’re not going to have a state tournament,” Pearson said. “Not having a state tournament didn’t strip him of his goals.”

On the mat, Quintanilla is technical and fast, according to Pearson.

“He’s pretty relentless offensively,” Pearson said. “You know, if you’re going to wrestle him, he’s going to be on your legs all the time. He’s going to be attacking. He’s really good in transition.”

If you want to reach the pinnacle of wrestling, there is always room to improve. Quintanilla made sure to work on his craft.

“I really worked on my speed a lot and technique, which I’m very proud of,” Quintanilla said. “I feel like my technique has gotten a lot better since last year, and I’ve gotten a lot faster and stronger.”

The Bullpups are pretty stacked in the middle-weight range, including two up-and-coming freshmen who train with Quintanilla – Ivan Acosta and Josh Neiwert.

Neiwert has been Quintanilla’s best friend since he was around 8.

“We (including Acosta) train together every day. We work out together every day, we run together every day,” Quintanilla said.

“So they get through the grind just like me and I expect big things, just as they expect big things out of me, too.”

4A/3A (2019 GSL finish, record)

Mt. Spokane (first, 9-0): The Wildcats are thrilled to hit the mats again. Mt. Spokane brings back an experienced roster consisting of two state title winners and multiple other state wrestlers. Four starters graduated and 10 are returning. Key returners: Ky Haney (state champion), Casey Howerton (state champion).

Ferris (fourth, 5-4): After a middle-of-the-pack finish in 2019, the Saxons and second-year head coach Chuck Vaughn will lean on six returning starters, though state placer Jake Davis and district wrestlers Elijah McCann and Brandon Montano graduated. Key returners: Fabian Torres (second districts), Jeison Ingram (third districts).

Mead (second, 8-1): Coach Phil McLean reloads after another successful season. Junior Ryan Clark (145) owns a second and third at state, and senior Benjamen Mitchell (152) took sixth. McLean has seven state participants, including girls state vet Kelsey Louen (132).

University (third, 7-2): Head coach Ryan Montang brings back a majority of his third-place squad this year. Jason Franklin is the only starter who graduated after taking third in the state tournament and six total starters return. Key returners: Kyler Anstrom (152, third at state), five other state qualifiers.

2A

East Valley (second in Great Northern League, 3-1): Craig Hanson goes into his 26th season as head coach. Multiple state placers and qualifiers graduated, but the Knights will have plenty from which to build. That includes a solid freshman class and an up-and-coming girls wrestling program. Key returners: Grace Todhunter (eighth at state), Mariana Coronel, Logan Swanson.

North Central (eighth, 2-7): First-year head coach Steven Taylor will lean on a state champion and a second-place finisher. NC will need its upper-weight wrestlers to step up, as the strength is at the lower weight classes. Key returners: Steven Zaragoza (106, champion), Kenndyl Mobley (126, second).

Pullman (fifth in GNL, 0-4): First-year coach Marcus Crossler has five letter-winners back, including junior Gabe Smith (145), who was state runner-up in 2020 and sixth as a ninth-grader in 2019. Senior Mitch LaVielle (160) is a two-time state participant.

Rogers (sixth in GSL, 4-5): COVID-19 has caused some issues with the program, but the Pirates will key in on their middle- and upper-weight classes. They return six, but a big weakness will be their depth. Key returners: Jaden Rice (state qualifier), Isaac Sweeney (state qualifier) and Jordan Searls (state alternate).

West Valley (third in GNL, 2-2): The Eagles lost four starters to graduation but bring back 10. They lost state champion Gaje Caro. The team is athletic but is short of experience. Key returners: Tanner Cassell, Shelby Scott, Micah Petersen (fifth regionals), Kyler Warren (state qualifier).

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