The grind of wrestling year-round proved to be miserable at times for Luis Saucedo.
“You can’t live a normal life as a wrestler,” the 2016 Central Valley High School grad said. “You have to make so many sacrifices. There are so many challenges and hurdles you have to overcome. You have to watch what you eat. I’d be there with my family (on Thanksgiving and Christmas) but had to miss out on all the food because I had to cut weight. It was difficult seeing and smelling it. It messed with my head. It made me moody. I understand why I had to do it.”
Saucedo never lost sight of his goal, which was to earn an athletic scholarship to a four-year college.
He signed a national letter of intent with Simpson University in May.
“It’s a big accomplishment. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can achieve. If I give it my full effort, which I plan to do, I truly believe I can be a National qualifier and an All American.”Luis Saucedo
“It’s a big accomplishment,” Saucedo said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what I can achieve. If I give it my full effort, which I plan to do, I truly believe I can be a National qualifier and an All American. They’re going to help me reach those goals.”
Saucedo visited Simpson University, which is located in Redding, in May and December prior to committing.
“Out of the schools that were talking to me, they had the best offer,” said Saucedo, whose scholarship covers 80 percent of tuition and other fees. “It felt like it was a program that could help me grow as an individual and wrestler.”
Saucedo moved to Redding, which is located four hours north of Modesto, on Sept. 4.
The 2020-21 school year started with hybrid learning on Sept. 7.
Saucedo lives in the dorms on campus.
“Everyone is really nice and super helpful here,” he said.
The wrestling season is slated to begin in November.
Saucedo plans to compete in the 125-pound division.
“There are two other guys in the same weight class,” he said. “We’ll have a wrestle off for the starting spot. I have faith in my skills.”
“I rely on my speed and technique to compensate for my lack of physical strength,” Saucedo added. “That’s something I’m trying to improve on.”
Saucedo spent the 2019 season at Fresno City College.
He finished fourth with a 2-2 record while competing at 125 pounds at the Coast Conference Tournament. The Rams also won the team title. For the fourth year in a row and 17th time in program history, Fresno City College placed first at the CCCAA Wrestling State Championships.
“I wanted to surround myself with talent,” Saucedo said. “Every individual in the room wanted to be a champion and trained like it. It rubbed off on me. I wasn’t a starter. He (coach Paul Keysaw) gave me an opportunity to wrestle at almost every tournament. He let me compete and showcase myself. He had faith in me. He opened this door for me. That’s something I’ll never forget.”
Saucedo followed in the footsteps of his older brother by becoming a wrestler.
Jorge Jr. competed at Modesto High School.
Father Jorge Sr. introduced Luis and Jorge Jr. to the sport.
“I was in the third grade when I watched my brother wrestle for the first time,” Saucedo said. “It looked so fun. That’s what intrigued me. I give a lot of credit to my dad. If it wasn’t for him, my brother wouldn’t have wrestled in high school and I wouldn’t have been able to see him compete. My bond with my dad is unbreakable because of wrestling. He’s been in my corner since day one.”
Saucedo was just seven years old when he joined the Ceres Hawks Wrestling Club.
He received instruction from Jorge Sr. and Mike Senseney.
Senseney also helped coach Saucedo at the high-school level.
Senseney passed away unexpectedly at the age of 50 on Aug. 29.
“When I heard the news, it really hurt me,” Saucedo said. “He was a big part of my life. He was important to me. He was important to all of us. He cared for us like we were his own kids. That’s why I truly love him as a coach and person. I’m definitely going to think about him every time I step on the mat. I’m going to make him proud.”
Saucedo would be lost without wrestling.
“I’ve grown up in the environment,” he said. “It’s my lifestyle. I don’t know what else I’d be doing. It’s molded me into a person that’s disciplined and has a lot of respect for the daily challenges of life. You have to respect the obstacles in front of you. If you don’t, you’re going to fall flat on your face.”
Luis joined rare company during his final season of wrestling at Central Valley High School.
Determined to make program history, Saucedo became just the second male Hawk grappler to qualify for the CIF State Meet.
The 113-pounder posted a 36-17 overall record, took sixth at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Championships, and won titles at the Division-IV and Western Athletic Conference tournaments.
Saucedo also helped Central Valley accomplish several firsts as a team, including winning titles at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV Championships and Team Duals. The Hawks won their second straight WAC overall championship. Central Valley extended its unbeaten streak against conference-dual competition to 18 matches.
Luis went 33-15 his junior year.
He dropped two of three matches while failing to make it past the first day of the Masters tournament.
Luis also had to settle for runner-up honors at the Division-IV and WAC championships.