By John Philip Wyllie
He is only a sophomore and has just one year of wrestling experience under his belt, but that hasn’t stopped Bonita Vista heavyweight (189 lbs.) Cody Lopez from amassing an impressive 15-1 record since the start of the high school wrestling season. His only loss came when he wrestled up from his weight class to face someone more than 20 lbs. heavier. Lopez has certainly caught the attention of former Mexican Olympian and current Baron Coach, Gabe Ruz.
“As a freshman last year he finished second in CIF competition so this year we are expecting big things from him. He is one of our sophomore leaders and he has been doing a great job. He has the aggressiveness, speed and strength as well as natural balance, so once he learns a little more technique he is really going to be awesome,” Ruz said.
Lopez came into the season already fit following his stint as the starting middle linebacker for the Baron football team.
“I was a little bit beat up after the football season, but being in shape from football was more of an advantage. I was trying to get bigger and stronger for football and that has helped with wrestling. Football and wrestling are somewhat similar, but the moves are different. Wrestling is a lot more demanding. With wrestling you are out there by yourself, so everybody can see how hard you have been working,” Lopez said.
In both football and wrestling Lopez has been forced to compete against guys that are older and more experienced. But largely through hard work, he has neutralized his opponent’s advantages.
Considered one of the hardest working athletes on both teams Lopez has spent many off-season hours in the weight room and enduring torturous workouts designed for him by trainer, Joe Sheffield.
“I use a lot of endurance and strength and I usually get most of my pins in the third period. Sometimes I just beat them by points. I try to take charge and move the guy around so that I can shoot my move. At the same time, I try not to allow them to work on me,” Lopez said.
Nobody in his weight class has been able to work on him very effectively so far, but the season is just getting underway. Before it ends Lopez hopes to accomplish several goals.
“Last year I placed second in CIF, so this year I want to win that and the Masters. My (long-term) goal is to win the state competition,” Lopez said.
Both talented and humble he is quick to credit the people around him who have contributed to his success.
“I like the way Coach Ruz teaches us. He has been through everything we are going through now and a lot more. Over the summer I lifted Monday through Friday with Coach Sheffield and sometimes on Saturday. We worked on my speed for football and he has helped me to develop the muscles I should use for wrestling. I have a cousin that was a state champion wrestler and he has been helpful and so have my parents. My dad comes out to every match.”