Help wanted: East Union seeking suitable training partners for blossoming 220-pound wrestler.
“Workout partners are going to be important for the next three years, having someone to push him to get better,” head coach A.J. Reindel said. “Coaches are in there to try and beat him up a little bit but it’s tough when he’s beating us up.”
Reindel was talking about his son, Jaysen. A.J. otherwise hasn’t talked much about him unless prompted, in part because he doesn’t want to place any unnecessary pressure on the 15-year-old freshman. The hype, though, is inevitable.
Jaysen is one of just two freshmen from the Manteca area — the other being Ripon 113-pounder Donny Fortillas — to qualify for the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters meet, which begins today at Stockton Arena. He’s coming off a third-place finish in the SJS Division III Tournament in Yuba City.
“I can’t say I expected it but it was a legitimate and reasonable goal,” coach Reindel said. “I’m very pleased with the way he has wrestled at the weight class he’s at. He’s impressed a lot of people.”
While unranked going into the state-qualifying tournament Reindel is already on the radar. He’s was listed as an honorable mention in SJS rankings earlier this season, and although he wasn’t always successful he has faced some of the section’s best at 220.
Reindel was named Most Outstanding Wrestler of the Bear Creek Invitational, took first in the McNair tournament and was a runner-up at the Stagg Demolition Day. At Escalon High’s Lloyd Engel Tournament, he wrestled his way to the ‘A’ bracket after going 4-0 on the first day but lost twice on Day 2. One of those losses was to Elk Grove’s Sai Taamu, the section’s top-ranked 220-pounder, according to The California Wrestler and CalGrappler.
Reindel lost to Oakdale’s Wyatt Hjelm in the Valley Oak League Championships final and to eventual Division-III champion Isaac Mendoza of Inderkum last week. He bounced back in the consolation finals, pinning Garret Monroe of Pioneer for third place.
“I’ve accomplished a good amount but I have more to strive for,” Jaysen said.
That he’s accomplished what he has at that weight class is what’s impressive. It’s a division typically dominated by older, more physically mature athletes. On the plus side, Jaysen, who stands 6 feet, 1 inch, has no problem making weight.
“He’s 210 on a heavy day,” A.J. said. “He’s a big, strong kid but when you see the seniors next to him it’s like ‘holy smokes.’ He’s not fully developed yet.”
“Most guys do look older than me,” Jaysen said. “Some will have facial hair and the big muscles. Everyone I see at tournaments is bigger than me and if they’re not bigger they’re stronger than me. I don’t think I’ve wrestled a kid yet who seemed weak to me.
“I have to use speed, which is something I need to keep working on, and technique, which is always improving, to get an edge on the bigger, stronger guys.”
Perhaps his greatest attribute is his never-say-die spirit. Jaysen tends to fall behind early to quality opponents but has shown the will to pull off the miracle win or, at the very least, put a scare into his foil. That was the case in the VOL title match with Hjelm, who led comfortably 11-0 before Reindel rallied to close in 12-4. Hjelm fought off his back and avoided getting pinned in the final seconds.
“Any match is winnable no matter how far behind you are or how bad it seems,” Reindel said.
Reindel still has some maturing to do, both physically and as a wrestler. But mentally and emotionally he’s as advanced as they come for a freshman. A.J. calls his son “a level-headed kid” who isn’t easily rattled in pressure situations and remains humble despite any positive attention he receives.
Jaysen is also a team leader. Having been around the program growing up, he hasn’t had to work hard to gain anyone’s respect in the wrestling room and is essentially another coach on the mat in practice and on match day.
“He needs to work on getting himself better,” A.J. said. “Sometimes I find him coaching up others too much. I like that but there are times he needs to get himself better.”
Jaysen will get tested right away at Masters, as he drew Tokay junior Kristopher Kranich, CalGrappler’s No. 7-ranked 220-pounder. The top six placers on Saturday qualify for the CIF State Championships.
“Until I actually see them on the mat they’re just another name on the paper,” Reindel said. “Just another person standing in a way from my goal.”
He is the last East Union wrestler standing for the 2014-15 season, but Jaysen said rivalries are set aside at this point with so few from the city making it to Masters. Sierra has two qualifiers in Brandon Rullan (113) and Alex Loaiza (126), while Manteca has one in senior heavyweight Steven Martinez. Ripon High alone has four wrestlers still alive — Gabe Barnett (152), Dyllan Heald (160), Tristan Smith (285), Fortillas). Alex Garcia (120) and Cristian Garcia (126), both of Lathrop, and Weston Ranch’s Mark Carganilla (195) are also competing today.
“You just kind of look at it like we’re all from Manteca,” Reindel said. “During the season they are Sierra and Manteca, but right now we’re all representing the city of Manteca at a bigger level. I’ll cheer them on. We’re all trying to accomplish the same thing.”