“I wasn’t a big fan of it (wrestling) at first. But as time went on, I got more used to it, adapted to it,” David Valentine, a senior heavyweight wrestler at Sparks High said. “(Now) I’d say it’s probably one of my greatest passions.”
Valentine advanced to the state tournament both his sophomore and junior year but was unable to place in the top three. He hopes to change that this year, in his final attempt.
Entering the Sparks wrestling program as a freshman, competing in the heavyweights, Valentine admits he lacked strength. But what he lacked on the bench press, he learned to make up for with smarts.
“Freshman year was really hard. I was just so much smaller than everyone and not as strong,” Valentine said. “Then as time went on, I realized that it’s not all just about strength, you can also use your technicalities.”
Valentine said he has learned that wrestling defensively, in the heavyweight class, gives him an advantage. Although, when he feels it necessary, he will become the aggressor.
“David has a lot of knowledge,” Sparks wrestling coach Ric Fehr said. “He has a lot of wrestling experience and time on the mat so he has a good variety of moves. If we shout a command at him, or a directive, he knows what we are talking about.”
The top four wrestlers from the regional tournament, which Sparks hosts this year, advance to the state tournament. Trying to advance to the state tournament for the third straight year, and place for the first time, Valentine will likely meet Lowry’s Luis Cardenas – a multi state champion.
Fehr called Cardenas the best heavyweight Div. I-A wrestler in Nevada but he’s not labeling the potential matchup at regionals, or at state, a David (Valentine) versus Goliath story. It’s more of a Goliath versus Goliath meeting, in his eyes.
“He has the potential to be in the (state) finals with Cardenas. I think in the last couple years he’s had it in him to do it (beat Cardenas), I don’t know if he believed he could,” Fehr said. “So I think right now he’s seeing he does have what it takes to get there.
Definitely Cardenas is a legitimate opponent so we just take that one day at a time but I think he has the ability to do it.”
As one of only two seniors on the team (the other being Tymon Dozier), Valentine described the situation as “weird” but he feels a responsibility over the group. Just nine wrestlers deep, five are freshmen and sophomores.
Valentine, who also played football for coach Rob Kittrell and the Railroaders, said saying goodbye to the gridiron “was probably one of the saddest moments ever.” He said walking off the mat for the last time “will probably be a little worse.”
“(I enjoy) the competition, riding the bus with the teammates, the bonds with the coaches, just all the family-type stuff,” Valentine said.
Despite the inevitable end, Valentine said he is not thinking about it, yet. Instead, he remains focused on completing unfinished business – placing at state.
His coach believes it’s within his grasp.
“I think it’s absolutely realistically possible.”