A family affair
Wrestling runs in the blood for the Sandovals
Matt Sandoval didn’t wrestle when he was young.
After watching his younger brother, Joe, compete in a club tournament, he decided to try the sport.
“I watched him one time, then my parents asked me if I wanted to give it a shot,” Matt said. “It kind of came to me.”
The Montrose High School junior learned wrestling with Joe and his cousin, Emmanuel Sandoval, who had already been wrestling for a couple of years.
Matt quickly learned how to handle himself.
“I remember the first time I was learning moves,” Matt said. “I remember throwing him (Emmanuel) in a headlock on a hardwood floor.”
“Do you remember that?” he asked his cousin. “We were in those apartments behind Murdoch’s.”
“He got back up and said, ‘I’m good. Let’s do more,’ ” Matt said.
Matt has been wrestling with his cousin and brother ever since that day.
Their fathers, Darren and Doyle Sandoval, started a club team, Team Xplode, hoping to build it up and give children an opportunity to learn the sport and compete.
“They’re good at it,” Emmanuel’s father, Darren, said. “They just need to get that in their head.”
Now, all three boys are members of Montrose High School’s varsity team and the club is inactive.
Another Sandoval, Ian, is believed to be a distant relative. The junior wrestles at 145 pounds for Montrose.
Emmanuel won the Montrose Invitational 113-pound title earlier this season. Matt and Joe placed third at 138 and 152 pounds, respectively.
The following week at the Alameda Invitational, Matt took second and Emmanuel placed third.
“I was the little guy, and I was shy,” Joe said.
Joe is still shy, but not so little anymore.
“Matt and Emmanuel have been wrestling pretty tough,” Montrose coach Neil Samples said. “Joe is actually having a pretty good year for a bigger freshman, too. All three are having a good year so far.”
Matt might be the best of them. The junior is ranked eighth in Class 4A at 138 pounds by On the Mat.
“I look up to Matt,” Emmanuel said. “He’s really good. He inspires me. He’s motivated. He’s always up there in practice.”