Sunnyside state champion wrestler Anthony Echemendia, who went 22-0 in the 152-pound weight class for the Blue Devils last season, signed a national letter of intent today to attend Iowa State on a wrestling scholarship.
Echemendia, a 19-year-old who defected from Cuba last year, becomes the third Sunnyside wrestler in the last two years to sign with a major program.
Roman Bravo-Young will be a sophomore this season at Penn State. Sunnyside senior Jesse Ybarra, a state-champion 120-pound wrestler, is headed to Iowa.
Last month, I talked to Echemendia when the Sunnyside School Board honored the donors of the Blue Devils’ championship rings —
the law firm of Schmidt, Sethi and Akmajian — and Echemendia said his goal was to gain citizenship and represent the United States in the Olympics.
With the Olympics next summer at Tokyo, he may not have enough time to gain citizenship and compete toward that goal. The 2024 Olympics at Paris is a more realistic shot.
“I am proud to be in this country and I want to show that by being in the Olympics,” he said. “I know I can make it.”
In July, Echemendia claimed the national titles in the 145-pound freestyle and Greco-Roman championships at the USMC Junior Freestyle Nationals at Fargo, N.D. He won the Greco-Roman title despite never competing in that before.
Echemendia looked into 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.
By signing with Iowa State, it appears he wants to broaden his horizons with a college education while competing with an eye toward international competition while doing that.
“He is a tremendous kid, one of the hardest workers I’ve seen,” Sunnyside coach Anthony Leon said. “If he puts his mind to something, he can achieve it. What makes him complete is he is a student of the sport. He is very knowledgeable about what he sees from other wrestlers.”
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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.