Sobrato duo looks to outwork competition

Jesse Redmond and Riley Hedden aim to be in peak form as the season hits the halfway point. Photo by Robert Eliason.

Jesse Redmond and Riley Hedden are wrestlers who also played together on the football team. Although one has to be explosive on the gridiron, the mat is an entirely different story. For a wrestler to achieve their full potential, their cardio and conditioning must be at a high level. Redmond, a junior, and Hedden, a senior, know all too well that one has to have superior cardio to wrestle at a high level.

“Football is nothing like wrestling when it comes to conditioning,” said Hedden, who was ranked No. 12 in the Central Coast Section in the 220-pound weight division through the third week of December. “Any football player would die if they came over to wrestle—it’s that draining.”

Hedden blamed his lack of wrestling shape and competing up a weight class in losing both of his matches in the first tournament he competed in on Dec. 15. Hedden, who went 2-2 in the CCS Tournament last year in the 195-pound division, plans on competing at 195 again. As of Dec. 19, Hedden said he weighed 205 pounds and was on his way to reaching the 195 number. 

Redmond plans on wrestling at 160 pounds instead of 170, which he did last year at the junior varsity level. Redmond has only been wrestling for a little over two years, having started the sport in his freshman season. He’s picked things up rather quick and hopes he continues to ascend as the season goes on. 

“I’m still learning and at the same time teaching guys moves and what to watch out for as a junior captain,” he said. 

Luis Lopez, who is the co-coach for the Bulldogs, expects Hedden and Redmond to do good things this season. Hedden is the more experienced wrestler out of the two, having started the sport when he was in the fifth grade. Back then, Hedden lived in Las Vegas and competed in a number of tournaments in his middle school years. Hedden has finished in fourth place in each of the last two years in the Blossom Valley League Tournament, including going 2-2 in last year’s CCS Tournament. 

“My biggest goal is to make it farther in CCS,” he said. “And I want to get a good seed and do well in all of these tournaments I’ll be competing in.”

Even though Hedden knows a lot of moves, his main strategy on the mat involves brute strength along with some technique.

“I’m a thrower,” he said. “I don’t do many shoots; I do a lot of throws and tilts and try to get near-falls and pin them. The main strategy is to push them back and throw them often.”

In addition to the two Sobrato coaches, Redmond has another person who coaches him up well—his brother, Genaro, the 2006 CCS champion at heavyweight. 

“He shows up to all of my tournaments and tells me what I did good, what I did wrong and what I can improve on,” Jesse said. “He’ll tell me things to work on and that allows me to focus on certain aspects to get better. Hopefully, if I continue to work hard, I’ll place at CCS.”

Redmond said wrestling has increased his overall abilities as an athlete, especially on the mental side. Redmond and Hedden know it’s going to take a lot of mental toughness to get their cardio in championship form. The last situation a wrestler wants to face is competing in a close match in the third period and gassing out. 

“I know I have to get my conditioning up,” Hedden said. 

Hedden has succeeded despite suffering a serious wrist injury that affects him to this day. Three years ago, while helping his grandfather resod the roof of a house, Hedden fell 18 feet off an extended ladder and broke his left wrist. Hedden needed a couple of surgeries just to get his wrist to a point where he could use it for everyday tasks. However, due to the injury, his left arm is a lot weaker than his right arm. 

“My left arm is a lot smaller than my right one,” he said. “I can’t really lift weights because my right arm will go up and my left one won’t move. It hurts every time I lift something. There was so much trauma that I’m always going to have pain in that wrist.”

When asked if he suffers from mental trauma from going through such a scary ordeal, Hedden said, “I’m scared to climb a ladder—that’s about it.” 

Hedden started wrestling because a bunch of his friends were doing it, and it’s a sport he’s enjoyed for a long time. The sport has given him discipline, focus and a will to compete even when times are tough. It’s also helped get him in shape.

“I needed to start wrestling because when I was younger I was a fat boy,” he said. 

Hedden said one of his most memorable moments in the sport came while he competed in the Junior Cadet Nevada State Championships while in middle school, taking a pair of third-place finishes while he was in the seventh and eighth grade.

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