Photos: Sihavong family and Jim Thrall
Only a sophomore for Bullard High, Dawson Sihavong became a CIF state medalist after placing 6th (126) at what was considered the toughest weight class in the state. Since becoming a state medal winner in March, Sihavong has been on fire as he won USAW Folkstyle Nationals and the Western Region tournament. His unorthodox style of wrestling makes it almost impossible for opponents to score on him. He will be one of the favorites next season to become a state champion for Bullard.
TCW – Who introduced you to the sport of wrestling?
My father, Nara Sihavong, introduced me to the sport.
TCW – Who brings out the best of you in the wrestling room?
It’s probably more my opponents. Since everyone else is training to become the best, it motivates me to go beyond and work harder than what I imagine them to be to beat the best opponents.
TCW – Who was the strongest and most technically sound wrestler you faced last year?
Jaden Abas. A pro on his feet and has a good top and bottom game; he has all the tools he needs to beat anyone.
TCW – Is there a wrestler or team outside your program that you love to meet?
I was told my body type, and wrestling style reminds them of David Taylor when he was in high school. I’d like to meet David Taylor and ask him some questions about wrestling.
TCW – What makes the Central Valley so rugged?
Central Valley has an active community of wrestling families, blue-collar farming communities that raised a bunch of hard-nosed wrestlers. I like to call it “The Bowl” that contains inside all the heat inside it. What I mean is that we have so many superstars contained in one small area working to become better than one another until they become something remarkable.
TCW – Were you expecting to become a triple crown winner at the Western Region tournament?
Yes. I’ve trained way too hard to lose to anyone at that tournament, and I could tell when I walked into the Holt Arena.
TCW – To whom do you attribute your growth over your prep career?
I would have to attribute my growth to my dad primarily because he gave me my foundation of wrestling as well as a keen sense of attitude and battle awareness.
TCW – In what ways would you say you’ve improved over the last three years?
I have developed in creating my style of wrestling. Everyone at some point has learned all of the moves that they will need to succeed, it mostly just depends on how you use them as well as when and where you use them in your match. These past three years I’ve been creating my own groove to cement the foundation that I have built.
TCW – What was going through your mind last year after placing at the state tournament?
I felt great at state, and I felt I belong on the podium. One of the mistakes I won’t repeat is being 5 lbs over before weigh in on Day 1 and Day 2. After the state tournament, it was time for a little fun, aka Greco and Freestyle. Wrestling too much Folkstyle can get tiresome after a while, and it was about time I started preparing for the Wrestling Association Duals. The grind didn’t stop after the season was over. In my mind after state, that there are still work to be done in the second season and more things to explore. It was time to throw dudes and win some titles outside of Folkstyle.
TCW – Is there one moment that stands out from your career?
Most people know would say that the one moment that made me stand out was when I pinned Beau Bartlett in the finals at Folkstyle Nationals. They wouldn’t be wrong because it was a surprise that I beat the number #1 freshman in the nation and a defending national champ, but it wouldn’t be the moment that stands out in my career for me. For me, it would be my transition from Buchanan High School – The #1 high school in the state & #2 program in the nation at the time- to Bullard High School (for wrestling) and Phillipe J. Patino School of Entrepreneurship for academics. It was a story of me leaving the best wrestling program and making my name starting from the bottom. I wasn’t even on the top 30 state rankings at the beginning of the season. It was my transition that allowed me to leave my comfort zone to expand my knowledge on wrestling and toughness.
TCW – What’s your favorite part about being a wrestler?
My favorite part about being a wrestler is that it opens me up to meeting other people in and out of the state. And to push myself to the limit.
TCW – What are your goals for next year?
My goals for next year is to train to win CIF State, The California State Wrestling Association Duals team title, Folkstyle Nationals, West Regionals, and to win Fargo. I hope to win Fargo Cadet division, either in Greco or Freestyle this year.
TCW – Favorite food to eat when you’re not cutting weight?
I like to eat my mom’s cooking when I’m not cutting weight, but specifically, I love eating chicken and rice when I’m not cutting weight.
TCW – Favorite movie or T.V. show?
My favorite movie is Ponyo by Hayao Miyazaki. He makes most of my favorite movies including a castle in the sky.
TCW – Who are those people that you would love to thank for your success in life and on the wrestling mats?
I would like to thank my family for their never-ending love and support throughout the season. I would like to thank my coaches who took their time to teach me how to be a great wrestler. I would thank my competition for setting the bar high for me so then I don’t cut corners and train hard. Finally, I would thank my training partners as well as all the wrestlers that I know in the community for being great training partners as well as great people. It wouldn’t be as fun if success were just a one-way street, for all of them are winners.