Less than 48 hours after dominating his match in a FloWrestling event at Austin, Texas, on Saturday night, Roman Bravo-Young was back at the JET Sports Training facility on the southside of Tucson this afternoon pushing himself to the limit.
If it weren’t for a redeye flight back from Austin early Sunday morning, Bravo-Young would have kept his daily stretch of working out later in the day.
“No breaks,” JET Sports Training owner Bobby “Jet” Rodriguez said, smiling with sweat rolling down his face after doing a workout routine with Bravo-Young.
“We go at it every day.”
Bravo-Young’s one-sided victory in the 137-pound freestyle match against former Virginia standout Jack Mueller on Saturday night merited the Sunnyside four-time state champion a bit of a break.
Entering his junior year at Penn State, Bravo-Young will leave his hometown tomorrow for the fall. He will first stop at Kearney, Neb., where he will be one of the feature attractions of the Nebraska Blue & Gold Team Camp through Friday.
“I’m going to Nebraska for a camp where I’m going to teach some kids some wrestling, just helping out the (wrestling) community and giving back,” he said. “And then I’m going to go back to Penn State and get ready for this wild school year and see if there is a season and how we’re going to go about this virus.”
The COVID-19 pandemic that hit in March canceled the NCAA wrestling tournament of which Bravo-Young was entered after going 19-2, including a runner-up finish in the Big Ten championship.
Bravo-Young, 21, was primed for his second All-American status on the mat, predicted by many to challenge for the 133-pound national title as a No. 5 seed. His goal of being a four-time All-American was in jeopardy when the NCAA tournament was canceled because normally a wrestler who finishes in the top 8 of the event earns that status.
The National Wrestling Coaches Association decided to break from the norm because of the cancellation from COVID-19 and it announced the 2020 Division I All-Americans based on accomplishments during the season.
Bravo-Young was an obvious selection for All-American with that criteria.
“That’s not the way I wanted to earn All-American; I don’t want people telling me I’m an All-American,” he said. “I want to prove myself, but it’s cool to be a two-time All-American. Obviously, I want to win the NCAA championship one day.
“All that All-American stuff is cool but that’s in the past now. I’m taking things one day at a time and hoping this virus goes away soon and hopefully there will be a season this year.”
Bravo-Young added that he is prepared to take a break from competition and continue to primarily train during the 2020-21 school year if necessary.
“I don’t think the season will start until January, so depending on what happens, maybe I’ll take a redshirt and play it safe,” he said. “It will be a year of just training and it will be a smart thing to do. There’s a lot of uncertainty and I don’t want to take a risk. I want to play it smart.
“We’ll just worry about that when the time comes. For now, I’m just enjoying the training.”
On this day at JET Sports Training, Bravo-Young, Rodriguez and two others visited the facility for a session of repetitive stepping drills to work on their legs.
Bravo-Young’s quick unrelenting feet made it seem he did not have time for fatigue.
His quickness on the mat subdued Mueller immediately in Saturday’s FloWrestling event. Less than 2 minutes into the first of the two 3-minute periods of the match, Bravo-Young had already built a 6-0 margin en route to an 8-1 victory.
Bravo-Young quickly maneuvered Mueller to a single leg and took him down to the mat for two points in the first 30 seconds. He snapped a level change by Mueller and forced him down from behind for two more points. He built the lead to 6-0 swiftly and powerfully escaping from a gut wrench.
“It was fun to get back on the mat,” Bravo-Young said. “I’ve been training and working hard. I just wanted to see how my training played out.
“So far, I look pretty good. It was a fun match. It was a different environment (without spectators) but it’s always fun to get out there and compete.”
Bravo-Young was cleared to compete in the event by Penn State’s compliance department because he represented the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club. His response to a message on Twitter last month generated the process.
He tweeted on June 28 to FITETV, which stages live events, to get him on a card. He implied that he was trying to entertain. Soon thereafter, he and Mueller were paired by FloWrestling as an undercard for the Kyle Dake–Frank Chamizo main event at Austin on Saturday night.
“It’s funny that it all started on Twitter,” said Bravo-Young, who added that he is thankful to be in a successful position for other Tucson youth to take notice.
“The biggest thing is you are who you surround yourself with. I know a lot more kids can be successful out here in Tucson, but it’s about who they surround themselves with. At the end of the day, the biggest thing is helping these kids make the next jump. It takes someone who has been through it. I just hope I can come back and help these kids one day because they just need to see it and hear from someone younger and not somebody older always nagging on them.”
Rodriguez, who is 10 years Bravo-Young’s senior, always comes away impressed by Bravo-Young’s determination even though they have spent nearly every day training together this summer.
“He’s not satisfied; he wants to do better,” said Rodriguez, also a former Sunnyside wrestler and standout football player under former coach Richard Sanchez. “He does something every day, whether it’s a recovery day in which we stretch or go into the cold chamber at cryotherapy, there’s something to do every day.
“He’s really adapted to that philosophy. He wants to be the best in the world. He does not talk about it. He shows up and puts in the work every day.”
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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.