Although small in numbers, the wrestling club’s strong will and desire to succeed can be seen beyond the mats.
Janice Russell, senior wrestler and two-time national qualifier, is one of the only female wrestlers on the team. She explains the advantages of being able to grapple with someone twice her size.
“I wrestle with the guys during practice if there’s not a girl here,” Russell said. “We rotate around and everyone’s pretty good with it. I think it benefits me to wrestle guys, then compete against girls. It’s definitely a different feeling; they’re a lot bigger and stronger than me, so it’s definitely helped me become a better wrestler.”
Carlos Baca, coach and former wrestler, commends Russell’s resilience.
“She works hard (and) she’s tough,” Baca said.
Baca’s main goal is to encourage his wrestlers, improve their skills and prepare them for life after college.
“I want to make them a better wrestler than I ever was,” Baca said. “I make sure everyone’s going to make weight, that they’re working hard and that they’re mentally tough and strong. I’m constantly telling them ‘you can do this.’ Typically, the mind will break before the body.”
John Uresti, sophomore wrestler, thinks of the wrestling club as his chance at closure.
“Being on this team gives me closure (after) coming back from an injury my senior year of high school,” Uresti said. “I really just wanted to close it out since I didn’t get to wrestle my last few matches senior year.”
Uresti credits president of the club Noah Villemarette, management senior, as Uresti’s biggest motivation to show up to practice every day. Villemarette is also another coach for the club.
“Noah keeps me motivated. He keeps things live and funny,” Uresti said. “He’s motivating by the way he talks to you and encourages you. I like how we can joke around with each other.”
Villemarette has been wrestling for Texas State since his freshman year and he formerly wrestled throughout high school. He decided to stop wrestling and coach the team during his final year at Texas State.
“After my freshman year I became treasurer of the club, then became captain of the men’s,” Villemarette said. “I was the president last year. I’m the president this year and instead of wrestling my last year, I decided to coach to just keep the program together.”
Villemarette’s former coach in high school influenced him to have more confidence as a sportsman, which helped the president to inspire his own wrestlers.
“I had a coach that really made me believe in myself, and that’s what I’ve been lacking for the last ten years that I’ve been wrestling,” Villemarette said. “It honestly brought me to a whole other level, and that’s something that I want to do for these guys.”
Uresti and Villemarette both said the other is their greatest motivation.
“I’ve enjoyed every second in this program,” Villemarette said. “My wrestlers have been my motivation to keep coming back.”