GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. For Palisade junior Randen Espinoza, wrestling is his passion, and for him the training doesn't stop when the high school season is over. In fact this off-season will be even more difficult than years past as he trains for international competition.
Randen Espinoza had a standout season in 2014. He was one of just three Palisade representatives to earn a spot at state, and he finished as a runner-up. That sparked international attention, and now he'll be making his way to the Down Under Sports tournament in Auckland, New Zealand and Australia, and he's ready to take his game up a few notches.
"Knowing that I'm one of the best in the nation, going against the other best in the nation is just overwhelming,' said Espinoza. "I'm just going to go out there, give it my best and hopefully I'll come in with some hardware for the U.S."
But it won't be easy.
"It's kind of like a full-time job in preparation for this, so we're just here to make sure he has some of the finest technical training," said one of his coaches, Mike Smith.
Randen will have to learn a different style of wrestling only to be put up against some of the world's best, but he knows it will only help his high school career when he returns home.
"[I will be] seeing different techniques that no one around here knows that I can apply during state and normal season," he said.
That "normal season" he refers to will be his senior year at Palisade, his final chance to become number one in his weight class. And this opportunity set before him will only be a step in the right direction.
"I live and breathe wrestling," said Espinoza. "This is what I want to do, this is what I always wanted to do. I just push myself every day during the off-season. I try to get as much done, as much workout as I can."
And his coaches know the best is yet to come.
"Just keep an eye out for Randen," said Smith. "I think in the next year you're going to see him standing atop that state podium."
Randen will be heading overseas in just a couple of months, and he needs all the support he can get. To find out more information or even how you can help be a part of his journey visit the link below.