Singlets in Sin City: DB wrestlers compete

Several students travel with their coach to participate in the Las Vegas Freakshow.

Several students from Diamond Bar High School visited Las Vegas last month, but it wasn’t to gamble or waste time in the preseason. They were there to participate in Freakshow, a  amateur wrestling tournament.

The annual event, held October 21-22, is  hosted by National United Wrestling Association for Youth at the Westgate Resort & Casino, attracting  up to 3,500 young wrestlers each year.

Wrestlers are put into teams of five, but those who don’t compete under a team name are considered independent. The champions of each division and weight class are awarded with a medallion and a Freakshow champions Singlet.

Diamond Bar wrestling coach Andre Bonafe said he wanted his wrestlers to experience a new level of competition against athletes from around the country.

“[The tournament] serves as a reality check of where they are in their current ability whether they are more ahead of where they think they are or behind,” he said via text.

Senior Conner Diamond, juniors Ryan Kim, Vivek Khandari and Dylan Wong and freshman Ryan Wong all participated, each competing in a different weight class. Most of the boys wrestled at the varsity level, but Diamond competed at the elite level against some of the best wrestlers in the country. Ryan Wong had to start at the 15 and under level, competing against freshman and seasoned middle school athletes.

Dylan Wong was undefeated on his first day in the varsity division, finishing his first three matches with a pin. On the second day, he lost to Utah’s state champion but won his two other matches. This placed him in the Top 32 for wrestlers in the 132-pound weight class.

“It showed me that even though people may seem intimidating I should still wrestle just as aggressively as I do during practice because in the end my competitors are also kids who feel just as anxious as me before a match,” said Wong.

In the elite division, Diamond wrestled against San Diego’s CIF section champion and came out victorious. However, his toughest match was against the national wrestling runner up and a returning Freakshow champion.  Diamond finished the tournament 1-2 at the 126 weight class for the elite division.

Ryan Wong wrestled at the 15 and Under division in two tough matchups. His first match was against the Idaho state champion, who pinned Wong when he was trailing by 15 points. His second match was against a ranked Greco-Roman wrestler, who pinned him with a one point difference in their scores.  The other two Brahmas both lost both of their matches.

Bonafe hopes to continue to bring wrestlers to Las Vegas every year, both for the competition and to create a bond between himself and his wrestlers.

“It’s the small things I can do as a coach that will build my relationship with my athletes,” Bonafe said. “Through that alone it will create the type of environment for success and make them enjoy the sport and want to succeed.”