Lely senior Marlon Moreta never wrestled before his sophomore season in high school.
Two years later, he’s a district champion and bonafide state medalist contender.
Moreta won the 170-pound title at the Class 1A-District 12 wrestling tournament last Saturday at Cape Coral-Oasis High. Moreta was one of two Lely district champions – 182-pound senior Jacob Stephenson claimed the other title. Overall, the Trojans advanced 10 wrestlers to the regional tournament, to be held Friday and Saturday at Lemon Bay High School in Englewood.
“Some kids start wrestling when they were little kids,” Moreta said. “I started out as a sophomore and I’ve gotten so far in the sport in a short period of time.”
Moreta qualified for regionals as an inexperienced sophomore, and then went 1-2 in his first foray into the state tournament last year. This year, he’s hungry for a medal. But he’ll have to get through the regional tournament first.
“I’ve heard that I’m ranked sixth in the state at my weight class, so I’d like to place at least fifth to push past that ranking,” Moreta said. “A top three or a runner-up would be amazing, although that state title is what every wrestler wants.”
The Trojans have put together a successful season under first-year coach and Pennsylvania native Thomas McVicker.
“The biggest compliment we’ve gotten in passing from other coaches is how much of an improvement they’ve seen in our kids throughout the season,” McVicker said. “With the team now firing at all cylinders, it’s been nice to get outsiders’ perspectives on how far we’ve come along. A lot of kids are stepping up. Kids are taking leadership positions, picking their teammates up when they’re down. At the beginning, things were a bit more individualized. But we’re certainly much more cohesive. It’s a true team now.”
McVicker said he hopes to see a large group of his 10 regional qualifiers make it to the state tournament. District champs Moreta and Stephenson are obvious favorites to do so, as are second-place finishers and brothers Hector Henriquez (132 pounds) and Herlan Henriquez (152 pounds). McVicker also cited senior 160-pounder Alejandro Castaneda as a strong candidate, despite his fourth-place finish at districts.
“There may be other kids with more skill, but no one outworks or wants it more than Alejandro,” McVicker said. “His heart, his mind and his faith in what he’s doing often outmatch kids that might be a little more talented.”
McVicker says the Trojans are ready for the coming challenge of the regional tournament.
“I believe we’ve prepared them for every opportunity so they can perform at that highest level,” he said. “They have all the weapons in the arsenal to succeed. All these hours, all this time they’ve put in, it’s all going to be worth it if they reach their goals like I believe they can.”
Lely regional qualifiers
Weight Name Record Year
113 Luis Gonzalez 12-20 Fr.
126 Abdul Morgan 10-14 So.
132 Hector Henriquez 20-17 So.
145 Thierry Brewer 5-8 Jr.
152 Herlan Henriquez 26-13 Sr.
160 Alejandro Castaneda 28-13 Sr.
170 Marlon Moreta 40-6 Sr.
182 Jacob Stephenson 33-9 Sr.
195 John Mionuis 5-10 Fr.
HWT Mark English 33-12 Sr.