CARLOS FUENTEZ ’19 has been wrestling since fourth grade, and he’s well aware of the wrestler stereotype: tough and unemotional. Wheaton’s wrestling team, however, is different. “We all sincerely care about what’s happening in each other’s lives,” Carlos said.
A communication major, Carlos decided on Wheaton after realizing it was a place where he could spiritually thrive and after noticing the love between the wrestlers on the team.
Last year before regionals, even though four wrestlers sustained difficult injuries, the entire team stayed positive, praying for and encouraging each other. “People think of wrestling as an individual sport, but as a team we come together and show who we wrestle for,” said Carlos. “We’re all living for Christ so we try to exemplify him.”
That perspective helped Carlos through a serious elbow injury his sophomore year. As the sole 125 pounder, he watched the team forfeit that weight class every meet. “I wanted to help my team, but I couldn’t. It taught me that wrestling isn’t going to be there forever.”
A poster hangs in the Wheaton wrestling practice room: “Seek perfection, settle for excellence.”
“There are very few days Carlos isn’t working extra after practice finishes. He is a coach’s dream—hardworking, respectful, and uncomplaining,” says Jim Gruenwald, head wrestling coach.
Living that motto out helped Carlos make it to the NCAA Division III National Tournament three times in his Wheaton wrestling career and finish second in his class in the 2018 Nationals, the highest finish by a Wheaton wrestler at Nationals since 2001. Some years have been tough; Carlos and the team don’t always do as well as they hope.
“But being on a team that believes in Jesus, at the end of the day, we can look at wrestling with perspective. And what’s important is living for Jesus. Wrestling is second.”