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AIA365 Staff | Students

Don Ketchum

Staff Writer,

Calderon latest in line of outstanding Maryvale wrestlers

Dec 19, 2012

Alex Calderon’s junior year at Phoenix Maryvale High was about to begin, and he was at a crossroads.

Family issues and general uncertainty led him to question whether he wanted to continue to wrestle for the school’s quality program.

Calderon’s older brother, Hector, a former wrestler at Maryvale, implored him to stay with it, and coach Pat Rowe was more matter-of-fact.

Calderon joined a few other wrestlers in a meeting with Rowe.

“I knew what kind of potential he had, but I told him, “I’m not going to beg you. You either do or you don’t,’ ’’ Rowe said.

A bit of reverse psychology, perhaps?

Calderon thought about it, and he thought some more.

“I knew if I didn’t wrestle that I would regret it,’’ he said.

So far, it has been one of the best decisions he has made.

After earning the 107-pound championship in the recent (Tempe) McClintock tournament, Calderon sits at 22-0 with a legitimate chance to enter the state-championship picture.

His will get a better idea of his chances in the coming weeks when he participates in the Blackford Duals hosted by Arizona State and in other tourneys at Peoria Centennial and Tucson Flowing Wells.

“He is getting it done right now,’’ Rowe said. “He’s doing it in the matches, he is doing it in class, and he has matured. I am not worried.’’

Calderon is working hard to become the latest wrestling star at the west Phoenix school, with a tradition that includes Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo, current Maryvale co-coach Jose Palencia and Calderon’s brother.

“We haven’t had a state champion in about two years, and it’s starting to get under our skin a little,’’ Rowe said.

Asked to describe Calderon’s style, Rowe didn’t hesitate.

“A hundred miles an hour,’’ Rowe said. “That works a lot of the time, but you also have to try to control it (aggressiveness). You’ve got to know what the score is, be smart about it. Sometimes if you over do it, that could lead to an advantage for your opponent.’’

Calderon’s brother had a similar style, but learned to keep things under control.

“He made some mistakes, and he always tells me to not make the same mistakes he did,’’ Alex said.

“If you are aggressive from the start, most guys (opponents) aren’t going to know what to do. If you’re trying to push them backward, they can’t do too much. So if I start “chilling’ (slowing down), I’m almost afraid they will find a way to come back on me.’’

Wrestling is a sport in which the athletes are in the ultimate form of condition, and being physically prepared helps Calderon in his approach.

The Maryvale wrestlers have rigorous workouts at least three times a week with what Rowe calls cross-fit training, stretching and gaining flexibility with large ropes and weight training that complement the process of refining the technique.

“Those practices really keep me in condition,’’ Calderon said. “Two years ago, when I went through my very first one, that time was really hard. I was really sore the next few days. I wondered a little bit if I wanted to still do it, but I stuck with it.

“I wasn’t sure at first if I would be able to do as well as I have so far this year, but I have worked hard and need to continue to work hard if I want to have a chance at state.’’

As Rowe said, “He has a lot more confidence. He is leaving any drama out of it.’’