Lely senior Marlon Moreta wanted to finish his high school wrestling career with a medal at the state tournament in Kissimmee.
He had to do it the hard way.
Moreta suffered a heartbreaking 9-8 loss to Delray-American Heritage’s Alex Cruz in his first-round match, giving up the lead on a late reversal.
Following the match, he had discussions with both his club coach Nick Marcus and Lely coach Thomas McVicker. Those talks got him back in the correct mindset, and he reeled off three straight wins to qualify for a medal, eventually settling for a sixth-place finish.
“(Marcus) told me that if I wanted to place in this tournament, I had to find a way to forget about (the loss), there’s no replaying it or going back,” Moreta said. “If I had a time machine, I’d go back and fix my mistake, but it doesn’t work like that. Both (Marcus) and (McVicker) told me that I knew what I had to do. This was my last go at it. If I didn’t give it my all, I wasn’t going to medal, and all that work I put in was going to go to waste.”
McVicker said Moreta’s mental toughness helped him get through the early hiccup, allowing him to accomplish what he set out to do.
“All year, we’ve been talking and nothing short of a medal was going to make him happy,” McVicker said. “As a two-time state qualifier, he was able to get those first-time jitters out of the way last year. He wanted that medal and he went out and got it, and I’m very happy for him.”
Moreta became the first Lely wrestler to place at the state tournament in six years, according to McVicker. He also gave McVicker his first state medalist in his initial season leading the Trojans.
“There have been a lot of great wrestlers to come through here the last few years, and none were able to get a medal,” Moreta said. “It feels good to bring one home. I worked hard for it.”
Moreta finished his final season with an outstanding 44-15 record, which included winning a district championship.
Not bad for someone who didn’t take up the sport until his sophomore year in high school.
“I put in a lot of hard work to get better over the years,” he said. “I love the sport and have improved every season.”
He says he’d like to continue wrestling in college if possible.
“I’ve made more friends in my three years wrestling than I did in my entire childhood combined,” he said. “I love everything about the sport – the hard work, the competition. I’d love to keep doing it four more years.”