ELSA – The wrestlers at Edcouch-Elsa are hitting the ground running and tumbling around. This kind of training is foreign to them. Most of the kids on the mats have had no prior wrestling experience.
“At the beginning it was hard for me because I never did like hard stuff,” said sophomore Carlos Nascimento. “Wrestling is something super hard. Harder than football, harder than any sport at school.
“It’s a really, really tough sport,” said junior Michelle Zavala. You’ve got to maintain a certain weight class, you’ve got to eat certain foods. It’s a really tough sport.”
Coach Samuel Mangum, a two-time state champion at McAllen High who earned All-American honors in college, jumped at the opportunity to lead the start-up program.
“They’re all fresh,” said Mangum. “I get to teach them my style of wrestling. I don’t have to teach against bad habits. I don’t have to coach against things they learned from a previous coach, which is a good thing.”
Some of the Yellow Jackets have already earned first-place medals at tournaments. They’ve taken a quick liking to their new program.
“He told me to join because it would be fun,” said sophomore Raulito Gonzalez. “You get to slam people and you win medals. Tournaments are fun.”
“You need to push yourself to the breaking point,” said senior Yesenia Saldana. “The next day you’re going to do more than what you did that day. It’s all mental. You need to push yourself and you will get through it.”