Anthony Echemendia, the state champion at 152 pounds for Sunnyside High School last season, dropped weight and captured the 145-pound national championship at the prestigious USMC Junior Freestyle Nationals at Fargo, N.D., this morning.
Representing Arizona, Echemendia, who was 22-0 with the Blue Devils, defeated Ohio’s Victor Voinovich 10-4.
Echemendia, who is a 2024 Olympic hopeful for Team USA, was a six-time Cuban national champion as a youth.
He defected from Cuba at a training camp held in Guatemala. He entered the United States seeking political asylum in August. He was released to his uncle Fernando Villaescusa in October.
Echemendia enrolled at Sunnyside in October.
“Looking to continue my career as a freestyle wrestler and win world and Olympic titles for the USA,” he posted on Instagram.
Echemendia is joining the Army World Class Athlete Program (WCAP), which allows top-ranked athletes to perform at the international level while also serving in the military. Athletes train and compete throughout the year and aim for the Olympics.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.