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It’s All in the Shoes: TMWC’s Sidney Flores gains ground as he wins the Freakshow

By: Jonny Ruggiano

Sidney Flores is the kind of wrestler that can stop you in your tracks. A relatively underrated athlete, most people are unaware of his potential. However, to the Titan Mercury Youth Team, his gold medal performance at last week’s Freakshow was a moment in the making. While the Freakshow is slated as one of the premier pre-season wrestling events, saturated with grapplers who have dedicated their lives to the sport, Flores came in with only three years wrestling experience to capture the title in a weight class that touted multiple state champions and state placers. Never the less Sidney’s motivation to win the event was elevated by a pair of shoes.

One day at Titan Mercury Wrestling practice coach Reece Humphrey came in with a new pair of Asics wrestling shoes. The blue Asics from this year’s Rio games caught Sidney’s attention. “Ever since I saw the shoes I always liked them. One day I asked him “Hey coach can I wear the shoes for Freakshow?” He was like, “as long as you do, you better not loose.” I said “of course that’s the plan, I’m gonna have super powers.” While Sidney’s training and dedication to the sport was the main reason for his wins, the shoes definitely gave him an extra boost: so did having both Reece and Jordin Humphrey in his corner. “It was my first time with Reece and Jordin Humphrey in my corner. They put me through a good warm up in the begging of the first day. I started off strong with a 12-2 win and continued to dominate throughout the weekend… When he gave them to me in the morning, I can’t remember what he said, but it was something like I said, “I’m gonna wrestle well,” and he said, “you better.” I wore them and took 1st place.

Sidney’s relationship with his Titan Mercury coaches continue to each day, so does his love for the sport. However, three year’s ago this young man was on a completely different path.

“I was a baseball and football player my whole entire life.”

Entering his freshman year at Bishop Amat Sidney had plans to continue on the same course. It was not until a disappointing post that his path changed for the better “I tried out for the baseball team my freshmen year and I got the results and my name was not on the list.

“I was kinda bummed but decided to try wrestling instead.”

“I went to practice the the first day and see one of my former teammates, his name was Robert. He said ‘what’s up? Are you gonna try wrestling’ I said ‘yes’ so he said, ‘let’s get a wrestling match in right now.’ So he challenged to a match in front of everyone and I got my butt whooped. And ever since then I thought maybe wrestling wasn’t my thing, but I kept coming back and getting better and better.”

It wasn’t long before Sidney started seeking out any possible way for him to improve in wrestling. He first heard of Titan Mercury while competing at the C.I.F. Championships. “I wrestled one of the former San Marino kids, Tino Lopez at CIF and that’s where I first heard of Titan Mercury.” Shortly after he began working with David Rivera, who encouraged him to check out Titan Mercury Wrestling Club.  “I was told to check out the club, and I was like, I don’t know, I don’t think they like me over there because Tino beat me and then I beat Tino.”

Flores finally made it into the room where he fit right in. One of the first people to greet him was Coach John Azevedo. “Coach John was very welcoming and had open arms. I fell in love in the club. The environment was very intense. Everyone wanted to be the best and that kept me going. I feed off the energy in the room”

While the Titan Mercury room has seen a change of guard as Azevedo passed to reigns over to Humphrey, Sidney is the kind of student/ athlete that learns and appreciates all that he gains from his coaches. “Coach John is a wonderful man. He was always critiquing me on the little things that I needed to improve on.” His admiration for Azevedo is matched by his excitement for what Humphrey brings to the room. “He brings a lot of energy to the room. He told us the sky’s the limit.” That kind of motivation has propelled Sidney to greater heights as seen last week in Las Vegas. “For Freakshow, I had been looking toward this tournament for a long time because coach Reece and coach Jordin were gonna be in my corner. I felt like I couldn’t loose.”

As Flores enters his final high school season the goal is simple: State Champion.

“My goals for the season is to become for first State Champion in wrestling for Bishop Amat. I just have to keep working and to keep grinding to become the best and to not let anybody talk me down or tell me I cannot do anything. I just need to keep working and wrestling.” For Sidney, his coaches at Bishop Amat also provide key tutelage. “I am thankful for all my coaches at Bishop Amat who have helped me become a better wrestler and person.” His support system continues with many from TMWC, whom he is especially grateful for, especially Andy Barth, the Wick family and coach David Rivera. Most important to Sidney is the love and support of his parents and family: especially his mother. “My mom has always been there to push me to be the best. She is my #1 fan.”

That fan support along with a strong dedication to the sport had helped Sidney earn two berths to the California State Championships, despite only wrestling for three years. Flores is the kind of kid who learns greatly from his experiences. Most notably for him last year was missing out on a medal. “Losing in the blood round motivated me to work harder. I’ve been working a sharpening my weapons to be the best.”

As Sidney aims to cap off his high school career with a state title, he already has college on his mind. Flores plans to continue to wrestle in college, however he is still looking forward to see what scholarship opportunities open up.  Regarding what his ideal college would be Sidney is looking for a place that is the perfect fit. “I’m looking anywhere that I feel is best going to fit me and what I want to do in my career.” Flores plans on pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice, however his plans for wrestling are equally exciting. In order to accomplish his goals, Sidney knows it’s all about who you surround yourself around. “I want to wrestle where people are wanting to have the same goal as me; in wanting to be a multiple time national champ. Where the intensity is high in the room and the coaches having a special connection with the wrestlers, in knowing who they are and how they wrestle.”

With only a short period of time under his belt in the wrestling world, Sidney has learned fast about what it takes to be the best. Flores is the kind of wrestler that takes advantage of all the opportunities that arise. As an extremely coachable kid, he continues grow at an exponential rate. With dedication, love, support and sometimes additional motivation, even if it comes in the form of a pair of shoes, Sidney Flores is proving to be a contender.

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