Finding the right matchups can be a weighty matter
Stars and Stripes January 27, 2024
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – Jaden Calixto experienced a complete 180 over the span of a week.
The Kaiserslautern junior wrestler couldn’t keep anything down on Jan. 20 at Ramstein, at times running between rounds in matches to throw up. In fact, it happened so many times a trip to the emergency room was discussed.
Amid that, the 106-pound wrestler suffered his first loss of the season to fellow Raider Lily Greene.
On Saturday at Kaiserslautern High School, Calixto was back to full health and looking to return to his winning ways. And he delivered by taking his weight class with a pair of pins and a 10-5 decision in the final over Stuttgart sophomore Karmyn Lopez.
“I feel magnitudes better,” Calixto said. “The loss on my record definitely sucks, so I definitely wanted to pick (my winning streak) back up again.”
Calixto and Lopez met in last year’s DODEA European wrestling championships in the third-place match, with Calixto winning.
Those two are the highest-placed returners at 106 this campaign. The winner in the weight class, Cole Santos, has been wrestling at 113, while the runner-up, September Snyder, graduated.
On Saturday, the two scrapped their way through a tight match, with Lopez picking up two points on a takedown with less than a minute remaining to make it 8-5. The Panther then started chasing points and a possible pin, and Calixto took advantage by picking up the reversal.
“It’s definitely fun to go head to head against her, since we placed right next to each other (at last year’s Euros),” Calixto said.
That offensive mindset to kill off the match is new to Calixto’s arsenal.
He mentioned how he’s worked hard on that aspect, going to a camp at Virginia Tech over the summer. He said it adds to his strength on defense.
“I try and focus on not giving up stupid mistakes or takedowns when I can,” Calixto said. “I’ve been working a lot more on my offense this year to grow that part of my game.”
One wrestler with whom Calixto could grapple in the postseason is Ramstein’s Frank Lozano.
The senior stepped away from the sport four years ago to focus on running long distances in the fall and spring.
Once this winter rolled around, Lozano got that itch to return to the mat, and he has made his mark. The Royal is undefeated on the season, including winning the 113 weight class Saturday.
“Since it’s my last year, I decided, why not give it one more go at wrestling?” Lozano said. “Coming back to it, I’ve been doing pretty successful, and I’ve been enjoying it a lot. So, I’m very happy that I did come back to it.”
The Royals are happy to have him, especially considering his versatility.
Lozano wrestled for the first time at 113 on Saturday, having spent the entire season at 106. He said he did so to help the team come the postseason. He described how Ramstein could move a wrestler down a weight class and bump him to 113 to give Ramstein a chance at champions in the two weight classes.
On Saturday, he faced a tough road and thrived. First, Lozano pinned Hohenfels’ Cooper Avera, who entered the event with a 5-2 record, at the 3 minute, 48 second mark. Then he scored a major decision over Kaiserslautern’s Uno Tate, who boasted a 12-4 record.
Lozano finished with a pin at 3:23 over Stuttgart freshman Dominick Welsh, who had a 7-1 mark heading into the meet.
“It was for the sake of the team,” Lozano said. “Today, we came out successfully in being able to win first at 113, so I think it’s a pretty good choice.”
Not that it was easy to wrestle up a weight class. Lozano said he lost the strength advantage he may have had at 106 and needed to find other ways to get points.
“It caught me off guard just how heavy they are, that I couldn’t just shoot straight at them,” he said. “I had to work more on the outside.”
Lozano, Calixto and the rest of the DODEA-Europe field now turn their attentions toward the postseason, which begins with the sectional tournaments at Ramstein, Stuttgart and Naples on Feb. 3.
For Calixto, the biggest worry he has is to stay healthy. At least he got a wake-up call early about it.
“Really stay away from anything that can possibly get me sick,” Calixto said of his preparation for sectionals. “Just focus on what I eat and keep it clean.”