Pueblo South wrestler has the 'Ultimate Warrior' mentality on the mat

·4 min read
Isaiah Algien raises his hand in victory after advancing to the semi-finals of the South Colt Classic held on Jan. 8, 2022
Isaiah Algien raises his hand in victory after advancing to the semi-finals of the South Colt Classic held on Jan. 8, 2022

Pueblo South High School senior Isaiah Algien turned a love for professional wrestling into a passion for high school wrestling.

Algien has wrestled since he was in middle school and although he's been on varsity since his sophomore year, he has yet to achieve the ultimate goal of winning a state title.

But that hasn’t deterred him from loving the sport he grew up watching.

Algien’s stepdad would watch him enjoy his favorite TV show and eventually convinced Algien to try out actual wrestling.

“I watched the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment)” Algien said. “So, then I ended up getting into actual wrestling and I loved it. So now I'm going to college for it.”

More: Pueblo County's Zion Mares seeks to summit state wrestling podium

Algien was aware that what he was watching was fake wrestling, but he still enjoyed it. He was a big fan of all the athletic ability on display and watching the big slams.

“The Ultimate Warrior was my favorite,” Algien said. “When he was running wild in there like ‘yeah’ and it was just the slams, the big-time slams were a big thing.”

Algien thought that he could use some of the techniques he saw on TV once he got into the wrestling room, but quickly he realized that the two do not translate the same.

“You know once I got into wrestling, I tried to do the pick-up lifts with leg and take downs,” Algien said. “After a while, I ended up getting more techniques with single legs, double legs, getting their arm drag, stuff like that and end up working pretty good for me.”

Algien eventually turned in all that hard work into making the varsity team his sophomore year which is something he says was a “big goal” for him for a long time.

It was also the toughest goal for him.

“The toughest step was making varsity,” Algien said. “Making varsity as a sophomore was kind of a big thing to a lot of people.”

It was big enough that even a few colleges talked to Algien about it. Things were looking up for him but there was a point where he felt like he wanted to call it quits.

At the end of his sophomore year, Algien lost in the regionals. Granted it was to a two-time state champion at 132 pounds, but the loss hit Algien hard.

It was the first time he had faced this kind of adversity.

“We go to regionals, I'm pumped up and getting ready,” Algien said. “I end up getting whooped by this two-time state champ.”

In the end all the loss really did was drive Algien to want it more.

“I really put my head down there,” Algien said. “But you know stuff happens, I picked myself back up drove a little more, worked over the summer and now I'm here.”

Algien says that summer after his sophomore year, his teammates helped him a lot to get over the loss and to refocus his goals for the next year.

During practice and even after, his teammates would be there to motivate him and bring him back up. Something that Algien says was a “big help”.

Algien is a senior now and has overcome a lot in his time at South, including wrestling with asthma.

But that hasn’t stopped him from pursuing his goal of winning a title. In fact, it pushes him even harder to train and prove to people that you can do this with asthma.

“I have asthma, so do a lot of people,” Algien said. “People say, ‘I have asthma I don't feel like I can't wrestle’, and I tell them, 'you know I have asthma, too.'”

He was born with asthma and he said it will probably never go away.

He has his rescue inhaler with him every day just in case he needs.

“There's really no excuses,” Algien said. “People come out here blind and they could do it, so why couldn’t I do it?”

It's still tough to wrestle with asthma, but Algien has learned to manage it as best as possible. He constantly monitors his breathing to make sure he's fit for the match. He takes the necessary precautions of having someone hold his inhaler nearby for every match.

The most important thing for him however is that he has no restrictions because of his asthma.

Without restrictions, he can focus on winning a state title.

“(My goal is) Making it to state for sure,” Algien said. “I want to be up there making it to the podium and have a top five year for sure.”

More: 'Iron sharpening iron': Freshman Kenna Pino brings leadership to Pueblo girls wrestling

Isaiah Algien of South High School looks to break the hold on his opponent during the finals of the South Colt Classic held on Jan. 8, 2022
Isaiah Algien of South High School looks to break the hold on his opponent during the finals of the South Colt Classic held on Jan. 8, 2022

Christopher Abdelmalek is a sports reporter for the Pueblo Chieftain and can be reached at cabdelmalek@gannett.com or on twitter @chowebacca

This article originally appeared on The Pueblo Chieftain: Pueblo South wrestler is the Ultimate Warrior on the mat

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