The California Wrestler got an opportunity to speak with double Fargo All-American, Jace Luchau about his wrestling career and his personal life. Luchau had a phenomenon summer where he placed second at Folkstyle Nationals and placed at both Freestyle and Greco-Roman at the always tough Fargo national tournament. His returning teammates and Jace, should help Selma High, make a run at the CIF state team championship this upcoming season.
TCW: When you look back on the last two seasons that ended at the CIF tournament, is your first instinct to celebrate the achievement of qualifying each year, or is it to deal with the disappointment that comes with failing to win a championship or earn the All-State status recognition you obviously want?
LUCHAU: I look back at my two seasons, and I wasn’t where I would’ve like to be. My freshman year I was 0-3 at masters wrestling at 160, and I probably weighed 142 pounds. The team needed a grappler at 160, and I did my best to fill in. Last year, I was ranked high in the state and lost my first match on the second day. Every year there is time to improve in my eyes, but also my goals are not to just be a state champion, so I haven’t looked at it as the end of the world. It’s just a small piece in my goals. I want to be a world champion. So, it’s not like I’m not happy with some things I’ve accomplished in my career so far, but I know there is so much more I can do.
TCW: What is more important in wrestling, strength or technique?
LUCHAU: In my opinion, it is the strength. Also, it depends on what kind of strength you’re talking about. Some have all the technique in the world but really can’t do anything with someone who has a little strength. Someone with some serious strength can come in with one or two moves and completely out power opponents. But in my opinion what rules everything is the mental strength. Without that, you’re not going to win a lot of matches.
TCW: What’s one thing you focused on most?
LUCHAU: One thing I focused on most this year was my shot. I’ve never been a confident shooter. All my coaches have told me that I have one of the better shots in the Selma room, but I didn’t believe them. It’s just something about being under my opponent I didn’t like. But this year I’ve worked on my confidence with my shot and shooting more. It’s worked out so far.
TCW: Wrestling is such a grueling sport. Give me some examples of your battles with injury or other adversity on the mat.
LUCHAU: Wrestling is one tough sport. It isn’t just for anybody. You must put your body through extreme measures like no other sport in the world. No one can help you out there in the match. It’s all about yourself. I’ve only had one serious injury, I broke my ankle in 7th grade during football season but made it back to wrestle, and I didn’t wrestle the way I would have liked. I lost some matches to people that in my mind I shouldn’t have and to people, I used to dominate on the mats. It put me in a dark place for a while, but I just kept practicing. I have great teammates who supported me. Other than that physical challenge, the most difficult things are always mental battles. Figuring out a way to beat Jonathan Garcia last year, and executing that game plan at the Masters Championship. The stress of having a crowded lineup, and wanting to wrestle at certain weights but also wanting to make sure there’s enough room for my brothers on the team.
TCW: How are the battles at the Selma wrestling room with great teammates such as Areyano, Mendoza, Ramos, Diaz, Rodriguez, and Jimenez?
LUCHAU: Every practice feels like a tournament. There’s never a time when you don’t have a trustworthy partner, you’re always practicing with the best guys in the state every day, and there’s no way out of it. We drive to make each other better in attempts to win a state championship team. That’s our ultimate goal as a team.
TCW: How does it feel to be the lone male wrestler in Selma’s rich wrestling history to become an All-American in Folkstyle, Freestyle, and Greco-Roman in the same year?
LUCHAU: It humbles me greatly. I’ve always kind of been the kid on the outside of the bubble of greatness in Selma, but coming home to messages from guys like Alex Cisneros, the Quintana family, etc. has made me finally feel part of the Selma History. I believe, though, that there is still more to come and being a Triple All-American is not the end. I feel this program and the people involved in it have helped me so much and I owe it to them to go out there and compete and represent Selma. That’s why I wear the Selma singlet on the podium at Fargo the first time I stepped on.
TCW: Do you have any superstitions?
LUCHAU: Superstitions… Haha. I mean nothing too crazy just something I do and it seems everyone has caught on and commented about is that I do not like to warm up for some reason I just don’t do it. I just put my headphones on and walk. I just walk around the mats for about an hour and just get ready that way. The second thing I would say is the “Tony Ramos” stare. I catch a lot of heat from people for this, that think I’m cocky or a bad kid, but it’s just something that gets me mentally ready for a match. For that six minutes or so I’m going to battle, but after that, I’m pretty much good with everyone and a friendly kid. People have taken it personally when I stare them down. Coaches get upset, parents and sometimes officials. It’s just me, and I don’t mean anything negative by it, but I’m not going to stop.
TCW: What’s the best part about wrestling at the CIF state tournament?
LUCHAU: I remember when I first made it into the state tournament, and I walked through the tunnel it gave me this feeling inside which is unexplainable. It feels great to compete at the highest level in the state, and I would say the country. It’s a feeling I can’t describe to people. I love California.
TCW: What would it mean to win an individual state title?
LUCHAU: If one day I earn the coveted state title, it would help me so much. It would give a lot of value to my life right now because I’ve worked so hard and that everything was starting to come to fruition. I still have my eye set on winning National Titles in Fargo and World Titles, but on a personal level, a state championship would mean a lot.
TCW: What music do you hear before a wrestling match?
LUCHAU: The music I listen to before matches are usually some Lil Uzi Vert. My teammate and brother Robert Garcia, told me all he listens to is that singer and it pumps him up, so I tried it out, and it gets me super pumped, it’s been working out for me, so I keep on listening.
TCW: Is wrestling the only sport you participate at Selma?
LUCHAU: I did play football for Selma and I was going to continue and try and play. But my summer wrestling with training in Colorado and Fargo, etc. has made it difficult to be there for required workouts with the varsity team, and I was forced to make some choices, and that’s led me just to want to compete in wrestling.
TCW: Who would you like to thank for your success in life and on the mats?
LUCHAU: I would like to personally thank Selma Unified School District for giving me the opportunities to miss some school at times and be able to train in Colorado with my second team. I really appreciate that they’ve been creative and let me do school work on the road, etc. I would like to thank Selma coach Sam Lopez, Joey Areyano and Rob Sepulveda and any other coaches on staff. I would like to thank my team for making me better everything in the room and pushing me to be my best. I would like to thank my Colorado coaches Jeff Estrada, Luke Morris, Jake Gregerson, Jacob Eck, Coach Chubby and Zac. These coaches have done so much for me. I go and train with them every summer and sacrifice everything to become better. Coach Bill Mitchell for always being there and not always in person, but if I need to vent or discuss tape, or just a friend. Lastly, I would like to thank my Family and my Dad for always being there and pushing me. Making sure I was getting done what needed to be done. I know he wants me to do the things he never had the chance do too. My Mom who is always working to provide me with money for me to go on trips and I appreciate my brothers and sisters. I take so much attention away from them, but they still support me. Mainly, just anyone who has touched my life I appreciate.
TCW: Who is Jeff Estrada?
LUCHAU: In February, when I won my master’s title, everyone in the Valley was asking about who that tattooed guy was in my corner. Coach Jeff Estrada drove from Colorado to help train with me for a few weeks before state. He packed up and left the Colorado state tournament after his team got to the medal rounds, drove the 17 hours, trained me and told me we were going to win Masters when no one thought we could. He also coached me at the state tournament. Coach Estrada is my best friend, and I would do anything for him. He has made me into the wrestler I am today and the person that I am. I’ve spent two summers in Colorado, and I’ve changed from an immature kid to becoming a man and a more responsible person. I wrestle at different pace and level now, and I feel like I’m becoming a better person and learning what real life is about traveling the country in our bus together. I can’t thank Jeff and his wife Natasha enough for allowing me into their home and treating me like a son.