Vasquez eyes future of wrestling career
South Tahoe High wrestler David Vasquez hopes to turn his favorite sport into an education next year.
Vasquez, an 18-year-old senior who has gone undefeated in Nevada 4A Sierra Division heavyweight (275 pounds) matches this season, would like to compete at the university level next year. His overall record on the season is 26-4.
“I’m thinking mainly of community college because of the cost, but I want to play varsity (wrestling) at the school,” Vasquez said. “That’s also why I want to go to community college, to gain more experience and get stronger so that I can wrestle for a bigger school.”
Vasquez, who moved to the Tahoe area from San Diego at the beginning of his sophomore season, said he has been contacted by Menlo College in the Bay Area about possibly attending school there following graduation from STHS.
Football also is an integral part of Vasquez’s life, thanks to encouragement from his dad, David Vasquez, and his mom, Rocio Flores.
“I didn’t play any sports my freshman year,” he said. “Then my dad told me, ‘You should play football’, and I liked it.”
Vasquez plays defensive tackle for the Vikings when not wrestling, his true love.
He noted that competing in club-level wrestling improved his ability and allowed him to excel in this, his last year of high school eligibility.
“I kept practicing and getting better,” he said. “This is my best year.
“Coach (Jack) Lopez has worked with me the most (of anyone). He’s helped me out a lot in working with me and supporting me. He’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever had. He’s always been there for me, even when I lost. He’s a great coach.”
Although he had a solid record at 30-10 last year, Vasquez failed to qualify for the state championships. He is preparing to travel to the NIAA 4A Northern Region Wrestling Championships this weekend in Sparks, and if he does well, this will be his year for a shot at the state title Feb. 14-15 in Reno.
“I’m really nervous,” he admitted. “Last year, I blew it and I’m really hoping to go to state this year. I think I’m a better wrestler, more mentally prepared, and hopefully I’ll qualify.”
Lopez said Vasquez has “more or less been the backbone of our team for the past two years.
“So many matches have come down to him, and if he wins, we win,” Lopez said. “Fortunately he’s won a majority of his matches this year. His only losses came to real, credible wrestlers (who) have won tournaments before.”
Lopez has had the pleasure of watching and helping his senior wrestler develop a complete game plan over the past few years.
“He’s a real coachable kid, a big ol’ boy at 274 (pounds),” he said. “I constantly have to import people to wrestle him.
“Last year, he more or less relied on one move, the standing headlock throw,” Lopez explained. “By the end of the season, most Northern Nevada wrestlers were coached to defend it fairly well and it caught up with him in the zone tournament. This year, we’ve worked in quite a few other moves for him to rely on, and for big men sometimes this is hard to do. I feel that’s one of the reasons why he’s so successful.”
Vasquez hopes to parlay his success on the mat into some money to further his educational aspirations, which include studying education in order to teach and coach other up-and-coming young wrestlers.
“I am looking for a scholarship,” he said, noting that South Tahoe’s annual wrestling-devoted Randy Couch scholarship is available but has not yet been awarded. “I didn’t get it last year, but hopefully this year I can. I want to study teaching and to coach.”
Lopez believes that Vasquez could become a successful college athlete, particularly at a smaller school, as many large universities give scholarships to only state-title holding wrestlers.
“He could definitely wrestle in many, many programs that would welcome him with open arms,” he said.
Vasquez has had some proud moments during his three years of sports participation at South Tahoe but none better than when his parents can read about him in the newspaper.
“My mom and dad have really supported me,” he said. “I like being good, and when I do good and it’s in the paper, I get nice comments from friends and teachers and they (my parents) really like it. I think they’re proud of me.”
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