The Press Newspaper
Waite senior wrestler Elias Moreno has a clear-cut goal.
Reaching that goal is going to require incredible focus and perseverance, along with a lot of sweat, dedication, strength, quickness and determination.
“I want people to remember who I am,” Moreno said. “I want to make a story for myself so I can tell everyone what I’ve done, in wrestling and in the sport of boxing.”
Moreno, 18, is the 138-pounder in Waite wrestling coach Shane Kokensparger’s starting lineup. Several months ago, Kokensparger was trying to assemble the Indians’ first varsity wrestling team in three years, a drought that was forced on the school by the Toledo City League’s decision to cut its wrestling programs because of a budget deficit following the 2009-10 school year.
The first athletes Kokensparger, an assistant football coach at Waite, recruited were the football players. Moreno played football, and Kokensparger wanted him to join the wrestling team.
“I tried to get everyone to come out, as many as I could,” Kokensparger said. “I said to Elias, ‘hey, you want to wrestle?’ and he said, ‘Yeah.’ That was it.”
It didn’t take much arm twisting, because Moreno wanted to wrestle all along.
“I’ve been wrestling for a very long time,” he said. “When I was little I used to wrestle my brother and family a lot. I really started wrestling at the seventh grade level and on to my eighth grade year, then they cut the program. Last year, Coach K brought it back as a club sport and I joined because I loved wrestling. I never lost that.”
Mind you, Moreno was keeping busy during Waite’s wrestling hiatus. He also took up boxing in the seventh grade and got pretty good. Good enough to win the 125-pound weight class at the Great Lakes Region Junior Olympics in Cincinnati in 2010. He went on to place second at the regional tournament.
“I started boxing because I was being lazy,” said Moreno, a southpaw. “One of my friends’ mom told me about boxing and I said I might as well try it for fun. Boxing is a year-round sport. When wrestling season starts, I go strictly to wrestling. When wrestling is over, I go right back to boxing. When I get back to boxing, I want to (eventually) go pro. I want to make a name for myself.”
Moreno took a 19-5 record at 138 pounds into Wednesday night’s State Duals tournament match against host Perrysburg. Last weekend, Moreno won all nine of his matches at the Gold Medal Duals at Napoleon High School, helping the Indians take third place behind Genoa and Napoleon.
“He’s just a go-getter,” Kokensparger said. “He fights to the very end. He had a lot of two-point matches last weekend, where his heart trumped his ability. His conditioning is second to none. When it comes down to 3-2 matches, it’s not who has the best single leg, it’s who has the best heart. He always gives 110 percent at practice or in a match. He is a motivated young man.”
Waite beat Akron Ellet, West Carrollton, Westerville South, Akron Springfield, Springfield, Mohawk and Bryan at the Gold Medal Duals. The Indians lost to Genoa and Napoleon, but they are 18-6 in dual matches this season. They won the Clyde Invitational by one point and are undefeated against CL rivals.
“The kids have gotten so much better,” Kokensparger said. “Last weekend they wrestled very well. I’m proud of these kids and what they’ve done so far.”
Moreno admitted that he’s surprised by his record this season, if only because he is beating opponents who have been able to compete all through high school.
“I’m just getting back into my sport that I was in the seventh and eighth grade,” Moreno said. “I’m just coming back and beating them, as a newcomer. I’m really determined to win. I want to prove that I can beat a guy really bad.”
He added that part of his motivation at the Gold Medal Duals was to earn one of the tournament T-shirts given to each wrestler who finished with a 9-0 tourney record. An opening-round win over a foe from Genoa, he said, gave him a much-needed jump start.
“I ended up pinning him in the first period,” Moreno said. “I started beating one kid after another. I finished the first day 4-0 and the prize was the (shirt). I thought, ‘That shirt’s going to be mine and it’s going to be my tournament to win.’”
Moreno, who has a 3.2 GPA, said his ultimate goal this season is to represent Waite at the state tournament “and go as far as I can go.”
“I want to be the best I can be,” he said, “I have a lot of things I can work on, new moves, and I have to work on my pins. I’m learning a lot this year.”
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