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1996-1997 BOYS' WRESTLING PREVIEW

Move From Northern California Pays Off for Wilcox

December 06, 1996|ERIK HAMILTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — It was after the state wresting finals during Ty Wilcox's sophomore season when he gave his parents an ultimatum.

"I told them that I would have to transfer to Calvary Chapel. If not, then that was the end of my wrestling career," Wilcox said.

That was 1 1/2 years ago when he left Grass Valley Nevada Union High to wrestle on Coach John Azevedo's team. And judging by last season at Calvary Chapel, Wilcox's decision was the right one.

At the state wrestling championships in Stockton last March, Wilcox pulled one of the biggest upsets of the finals, beating Ati Connor of Goleta Dos Pueblos, 4-3, to win the 152-pound title and finish the season with a 52-1 record. This feat was particularly amazing since Wilcox had missed placing at the state finals the previous year, when he was a sophomore at Nevada Union.

For Wilcox, 18, the idea of transferring to Calvary Chapel had been on his mind since he saw former Eagle standouts Shane and Dane Valdez wrestling at a tournament a few years ago.

"I was in seventh grade when I saw the Valdez brothers wrestle," Wilcox recalled. "And I could tell then, that Calvary Chapel was special."

Wilcox's mother, Sally, said after his disappointing finish at state his sophomore year, she was expecting her son's declaration.

"He had been talking about going to Calvary Chapel since he was in the seventh grade," Sally Wilcox said. "But my husband and I realized that if he were to improve, he would have to go to Calvary Chapel. It meant we would have to sacrifice, but it was best for him. It turns out it was the best decision we had ever made for him."

The family moved to Fountain Valley last summer.

Wilcox said one big reason he transferred was because of a lack of quality workout partners at Nevada Union.

"There was nobody up there I could wrestle," he said. "It got to the point that my wrestling got stagnant. I needed to take it up to the next level."

Wilcox said after his arrival at Calvary Chapel, Azevedo immediately went to work on his technique.

"It [technique] was horrible because of the lack of experience I had," Wilcox said. "I'm still going through some changes. But John worked me hard. I would stay after practice and work with John or [assistant] coach [Craig] Holiday. And I would also come in on Saturdays. But it ended up paying off."

Besides constant drilling and wrestling with Azevedo and Holiday, Wilcox was also getting top-notch workouts with his wrestling partner Joe Calavitta, who, along with Wilcox, was a state champion (135 pounds) last season.

"That helped a lot to work with Joe," Wilcox said. "To have a workout partner like that helps you make big improvements in your wrestling."

In addition to the superior workouts, Wilcox said the big difference between Calvary Chapel and Nevada Union was in attitude and the team's fine-tuned workout schedule.

"We have a daily agenda," Wilcox said. "We know exactly what we're doing in practice, and why we're doing it. There's no wasted time at practice."

Although there are still those in the wrestling community who say Azevedo recruits wrestlers from other schools, Wilcox said he was never approached by the Calvary Chapel coach. Instead, he was lured by the program, which is ranked second in the nation, according to USA Wrestling.

Said Wilcox: "In [high school] wrestling, Calvary Chapel is the best. It's no secret. And I wanted to go to the school that had the best wrestling program."

During the off-season, Wilcox has been spending a lot of time in the weight room and working on the mat. He will be wrestling at 160 pounds and has been spending considerable time practicing takedowns and setups. Just last month, Wilcox signed a letter of intent to wrestle for Oklahoma State, a national powerhouse where the Valdez brothers compete.

"I always had Oklahoma State in the back of my mind. But when I went there for a visit, that's what did it and I knew I had to go there," Wilcox said.

As far as Calvary Chapel's team is concerned, Wilcox believes the Eagles have a good chance of nabbing their fourth state title.

"We have a good shot of winning it all," Wilcox said. "We have a different attitude this year. Last year, we sort of worked into the season slowly. But this year, we're in it right off. In two weeks we'll be [at tournaments] in Ohio, then Reno two weeks later. So we're going hard."

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