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The Valencia family is to local wrestling what the Ball family is to basketball. Coach & Father, Ruben Valencia, talks about his influence on not only his three champion sons, but his title-winning team at St. John Bosco as they look ahead to more CIF trophies in the future. Chris Hayre sat down with Bosco's best
KRISTIN SMITH: Los Angeles is home to some talented brother trios. I mean, we've got the Ball family in basketball, the St. Browns in football. In the sport of wrestling, the Valencia brothers with a big assist from their dad have helped put St. John Bosco High School on the national map. Chris Hayre has more on the latest talent, senior Cael and the family's impact on the program overall.
- Fresh Talent sponsored by Del Taco.
CHRIS HAYRE: If someone were to ask you to describe the St. John Bosco wrestling program, how would you describe it?
RUBEN VALENCIA: St. John Bosco High School, it's a brotherhood. So, you know, that would be the umbrella. The school is a brotherhood whether you're football, you know, baseball, basketball, wrestling.
JEFF ANDERSON: Hard-working blue collar kids that just want to win.
CHRIS HAYRE: The St. John Bosco wrestling team won the Trinity League NCIF in 2020. They also finished runner-up at the state championships, the school's best finish ever.
JEFF ANDERSON: We have been building for years and years trying to get to that point. I'm excited for what the future holds. And I think we're going to continue on that success.
CHRIS HAYRE: A big catalyst in the program's rise has been the Valencia family, led by patriarch Ruben.
RUBEN VALENCIA: I have a formula. I have a recipe that has been successful, not just with my children. I have over 25 wrestlers in Division 1 that have come out of Bosco or my youth program. And they're now off to college. Some have graduated already, you know, schools like Stanford and, you know, West Point, Oklahoma.
JEFF ANDERSON: When Ruben showed up, everything changed. There's a lot of growing pains having that expectation of what he wanted, which was national and Olympic champions versus where we were trying to win a league title. So it was night and day. And so we kind of compromised. And now we have a lot of successful kids going off to college.
CHRIS HAYRE: Older brother Zahid and Anthony were three-time state champions who went on to star at Arizona State.
JEFF ANDERSON: Just they took us to the next level.
CHRIS HAYRE: Youngest brother Cael is also headed to ASU and as a senior is one of the top-ranked wrestlers in the country.
JEFF ANDERSON: He's Bosco wrestling. And that story of you could start way down here and achieve so much if you're willing to put in the work, willing to listen to the coaches, and just do what it takes.
RUBEN VALENCIA: He never missed a day. We went actually one time maybe 13, 14 months where he did not miss one day, no excuses. So, yeah, we showed up late to some weddings and birthday parties. Family members weren't too happy. But we had a commitment.
CHRIS HAYRE: What do you think is the biggest thing that you've learned on the mat that you can apply to your everyday life?
CAEL VALENCIA: The regimen, having to work a lot. So it's not like oh, I don't feel like doing it anymore and then take a day off and still think you're going to come out and be able to achieve everything you want. So if you want to be able to do that, you've got to put all your effort into it and just continuous work.
CHRIS HAYRE: Hopes of a state championship in 2021 are still on hold, as is the wrestling season amid the ongoing pandemic, leaving the team with a new challenge to overcome.
CAEL VALENCIA: The fact that we might not have a season my senior year just get one last one in, try to win state, but, you know, it's happening to everyone. So you've got to know it's not just you, it's everybody.
JEFF ANDERSON: They like the routine and knowing that they can be successful in this. And they know what it takes to be successful, which is commitment and the consistency. And so when that gets taken away, it puts us in a tough spot. But our boys are resilient. They're finding other ways to get training in.
RUBEN VALENCIA: We're all growing and learning. On the other side of the tunnel, on the other side when you get some daylight like we're starting to see now, you're going to be stronger and better.