Cubs’ freshman wrestler ready to lead

Newport’s Chelo Garcia (left) wrestles at the girls districts earlier this month. Garcia is ranked no. 3 in the state of Oregon as a freshman. (Photos courtesy of Newport wrestling)

“She attacks her fears. She goes after them to make her better.” — Rick Hernandez

NEWPORT — Newport wrestling is growing day by day, year after year.

Overall this season, the Cubs wrestlers have had their highs and lows, but most of all, they are setting themselves up for a strong future.

Newport has seen top performances from Claire Mattson (120 pounds), Kaeden Fletcher (135 pounds) and maybe most prominent, Chelo Garcia (100 pounds). The Cubs had seven girls, but only the three competed at districts last week.

“All the girls did very well,” head coach Rick Hernandez said. “We had two seniors and one freshman, but they competed well from the beginning of the year until the district tournament. Their improvement was very good, and I’m happy with the way they competed.”

Newport’s freshman sensation, Garcia, is ranked as the third best girls wrestler in the state within her division, and Hernandez envisions a bright future for her and the Cubs as a whole.

“It is really nice to have great wrestlers coming out of Newport, and Chelo is no different. She’s only a freshman, but she is becoming a great wrestler,” Hernandez said. “When you got somebody doing so well, it’s fun for the team, fun for the school and even better for the other wrestlers who are able to learn and grow with her.”

Her success is a reflection of the strides the team has made over the years. They challenge each other on a daily basis, and it shows on with the performances on the wrestling mat.

“At the end of the season, when you get somebody that gets into the rankings, we hold that in high regard, especially the wrestlers,” Hernandez said. “When they put the work in and see the end result, it’s very rewarding for everyone.”

Wrestling is one of, if not the most physically demanding sports, and for a wrestler to be great, it starts from within.

Luckily for the Cubs, they’ve found a diamond in Garcia.

“I foresee multiple state championships in her future ,and that’s how good I believe she is,” Hernandez said. “She’s going to be the best girl in the state, but the only thing that she’s got to worry about is herself. She has to worry about beating herself, and if she can get past that mentally, the rest is all easy.

“And one thing about her, even though she is just a freshman, she wrestles like she a senior. She’s getting it mentally; she understands how to move physically and that’s a part of her learning her body.”

For most freshmen, according to Hernandez, it takes a few years to be game ready. Garcia is past that point in her young, blossoming career. And Garcia believes her wrestling this year has given her confidence for future ones to come.

“It feels really good to be able to do well,” Garcia said. “It’s given me a confidence boost, especially going up against older opponents.”

Garcia said she gets “super nervous” at times, but it might be impossible to tell with the way she wrestles. She harnesses those butterflies and turns it into adrenaline, which keeps her going throughout the match.

Her agility and strength on the mat are unparalleled.

“I’m pretty quick, especially on top,” Garcia said.

And despite having to wrestle boys from time to time, Garcia knows that will only make her better.

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