La Quinta High wrestling makes a comeback

La Quinta High School had a chance to see their fellow wrestlers back in action for the 2021-2022 school year. 

Throughout the years, wrestling has been a well-known sport during the winter sports season for high school: whether it’s a wrestler performing a smooth takedown or getting out of a tight hold, it brings great excitement to the stands.

Despite this unpredictable year due to the pandemic, the community had a chance to experience that same excitement.

Max Mota ‘22 has been wrestling for four years. He has earned recognition for many titles throughout his wrestling career. 

“Sophomore year I won DEL at 195. This year, I placed second at DEL and sixth place at the Mann Classic tournament,” he said. “About two or three weeks ago [in February] I placed fourth at the CIF Southern Section fifth division.”

Courtesy of Mayra Mota
Max Mota ’22

Right now, Mota has the varsity spot for the 220 lbs weight class.

Mota was inspired to join wrestling after witnessing his older brother wrestle at La Quinta High School back in 2011 through 2015.  

For Mota, he looks up to Coach Andrew Woltman, who is also a part of the wrestling team staff, as well as his older brother. 

“They have been pushing me this whole time,” he said. “They have been there for every fight and they’ve always been right there to give me criticism and tell me what I need to work on.”

Courtesy of Mayra Mota
Max Mota ’22 with Jose Zendejas ’23 and Coach Andrew Woltman.

Mota is very happy and inspired to be a part of the wrestling program. 

“I guess it’s just a satisfaction of finishing every day knowing that you did your best,” Mota said. 

Sereena Baca ‘23 has been wrestling over the course of three years. Wrestling has always revolved around her and her family. She has earned many recognitions during this year’s season. 

“I received the DEL champion title and at CIF, I received sixth place,” she said. Baca has achieved her biggest accomplishment of making it to masters this year. 

Courtesy of Karlee Alford
Sereena Baca ’23

“It was the farthest I have gone,” she said. “For next year, my goal would be to make it to state.”

Samantha Hirsch is the clerical support for athletics activities, maintenance facilities and transportation. She plays a big role when it comes to the La Quinta High School boys’ and girls’ wrestling teams. 

“For wrestling, I make sure all the stats are taken care of. I have also coached in the past, I drive vans, I do everything that needs to be done,” Hirsch said.  

Hirsch has been working to help support the Blackhawk wrestlers for 25 years now. This year, she was able to bring that same support to help manage the team during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This year has been a struggle with COVID protocols, but with Coach [David] Razo on board and being on campus, I see the boys being able to come back to what we’ve been before and the girls just keep improving,” she said.  

Hirsch was also able to bring some insight as to what was in store for the rest of the season and the upcoming weeks. 

“We are lucky that both boys’ and girls’ CIF are in the valley. We [hosted] the girls’ CIF at our school and the boys [were hosted] at Shadow Hills High School,” she said. 

Certain changes have also been made towards girls’ wrestling and their CIF.

“The girls are different because they now have a two-day tournament just like the boys,” she said. “In our league, we also have a girls’ dual team tournament so girls’ opportunities have expanded over the last ten years.” 

Hirsch has a very close relationship with the wrestlers and is known as the “mom” figure of the team. She is very happy to be here this year.

“I can’t imagine not doing this and it’s going to be hard in three years when I go and retire,” she said. 

Razo is the varsity head coach for the wrestling team. He has been connected to the wrestling program over the course of 15 years since he wrestled at La Quinta High School as a student himself. 

For Razo, supporting his wrestlers is a big part of his job. 

“Part of my job is to be supportive, and on top of that, it’s also accountable. I think it’s a mixed bag in terms of at different times you need to play a different role, but at the end of the day my job is to help them achieve whatever goal they wish to achieve in wrestling,” he said.  

Despite the pandemic and the difficulties it brings, Razo continues to encourage and lead the team to adapt to any circumstances there may be.

“In terms of wrestling, we need to be adaptable. Given the situation we need to make the best of opportunities,” he said. “It’s a good teachable moment for young athletes that you can’t take anything for granted. You need to embrace every opportunity you have because you’re not always going to get those opportunities.” 

There was great excitement for the wrestlers as they ended off the season by achieving their goals of wrestling through CIF, and possibly heading for masters and state championship.