College Spotlight: Getting to Know NAIA All-American Javier Gonzales of Menlo College

Photo courtesy of Menlo College

TCW – Who got you started in wrestling?

Hey, Pablo, I got started in wrestling when I saw Steve Mocco and Tommy Rowlands wrestle in the U.S Open on TV. After that, I knew that I wanted to be a wrestler. However, I had to wait until I reached high school to be able to compete. My high school wrestling coaches were Bob Irwin and Ray Molina at Upland High school.

TCW – You competed for Coach Mike Tellez at Rio Hondo College where you were a CCCAA All-American, what did Coach Tellez installed in you that have made you a great collegiate wrestler?

Well, Coach Tellez is one of the most influential people in my athletic career as well as life. The great thing about Coach is he will never give up on you. He helped me believe in myself and helped show me I can compete and beat the top guys out there. Anyone who has ever met coach knows the how great of a man he is. I will never forget the lessons coach taught me during my time under him at Rio Hondo.

TCW – What was going through your mind after becoming a NAIA All-American for Menlo and Coach Joey Martinez?

Although I wasn’t ecstatic with finishing 7th, I was pretty pumped when I became an All American for the second time! I think I proved myself to not only my team but everybody in the NAIA that we have tough wrestling out here in California. I was also happy that I could honor my friends, coaches, family, and team with proving that all the time and effort was worth it.

TCW – How does Jiu Jitsu translate to the sport of wrestling?

At the end of the day, it’s all mat time! A lot of the positional drills I do in Jiu-Jitsu translate very well in my top bottom work for wrestling. I’ve been fortunate to learn from my coaches at Millennia MMA (Romie Aram, Bettis Mansouri, Stephen Martinez) as well as my professor Marcelo “Lapella” Mafra and train with the highest level athletes in the world in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as well as compete and represent team Checkmat at a high level and be successful. Although I have moved my training to AKA in San Jose I am grateful for all the lessons they have taught me on and off the mat.

TCW – Have you ever thought of representing Colombia in the Olympic Games in wrestling?

Yes! Being that my mother is from Colombia, I had the opportunity to live in Colombia at the age of 19 and train with the national team for a little under a year. It is something I’d like to pursue when I’m done with my college wrestling career.

TCW – Who was the toughest opponent you faced this last season?

At this level, I believe that everyone is pretty tough! However, I think Dean Broghammer from Grandview College and Tyler Kral of Purdue were the toughest.

TCW – What are your goals for next season?

The goal is always to be a national champion, but besides that, I’d say be a good leader to my team as well as try to grow both as an athlete and a s a man on and off of the mat.

TCW – What is a regular week of training for wrestlers?

Here at Menlo, our training is intense! We practice from 7:00 to 9:00 am every day and lift every other day with our Assistant wrestling/ head strength and conditioning Coach Travis Patrick.  I tend to get at least 6 or 7 extra workouts in a week. Therefore, this makes for a pretty exhausting season.

TCW – What’s your major, what are you looking to do after graduation?

My Major is Psychology. Grad school is in my future; I also would like to continue my competitive Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu career and possibly go into MMA.

TCW – What do like most about Menlo College?

The sense of community and small class sizes. I also love the fact that we are centrally located, and there is always fun stuff to get done.

TCW – Who is your favorite sports idol?

I’d probably say it’s a tie between Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) or Alexander Karelin. They both are incredibly dominant and heavyweights.

TCW – Favorite food to eat during the off season?

I tend to eat healthy (especially during the season) however if I’m looking to indulge there’s nothing like some good pizza!

TCW – Who are those people you would like to thank for always having your back?

Well, my family. My mom, dad, sisters, uncles and aunts and grandparents have always been there for me through thick and thin. Without them, I wouldn’t be here. Other people who deserve mention are my girlfriend, high school wrestling coaches, and my Juco wrestling coaches as well as my current coaches. They are the people that brought me to this point. Therefore I will always be grateful for the effort, love, and commitment they have shown me. Thank you for the interview, Pablo.