Wonderful Wanderlei: Wrestler Monache Commits to Cal State Bakersfield | Pictures

Wrestler Monache Wanderlei Whittington made a verbal commitment to Cal State Bakersfield earlier in June and will sign his letter of intent in November. With a full scholarship awaiting him, the now senior Monache looks forward to another year of competition. Wanderlei and his father Butch spoke about the decision and some of Wanderlei’s wrestling past.

Wanderlei has been wrestling since he was five years old, I could talk for hours about his accomplishments. Butch Whittington said: “At the time, Tim Vanni was his trainer when he was in KLAWS (Kids Love Amateur Wrestling) and he taught him a lot of fundamentals that carried over throughout his life. Coach Vanni always says hello to us at tournaments and encourages us when it’s not against his team.

You really need a village though. We can’t thank coach Marcos Benevidez who was at Burton Middle School and is now fairly wrestling Misfits. He believed in Wanderlei’s ability and really pushed him to grasp his talent. There were times when Wanderlei only won one game per season and coach Marcos stuck with him and helped him out. Mason Pengilly, Jason Kraft in Fresno at ‘Dethrone’ and of course his teachers at Monache Art Demerath and Eric Orozco.

Wanderlei had similar things to say about his coaches, noting coach Marcos in particular. “It was a very nice experience training with Coach Marcos. It was like he never left you when you were down. Not just for me, but for a whole bunch of other kids. Sometimes people take his intensity the wrong way, but he doesn’t scream because he’s angry, it’s just an instruction and he truly believes that we can work hard and become stronger and better.

It had a huge impact on my life. Coach Kraft is also huge, he has the same vibe as Coach Marcos, it’s about pushing to be better. I feel like Coach Kraft really teaches me the layers of wrestling and he continues to help me polish them to improve. He is a very good teacher and an expert in motivation too.

At the United States Championships, Wanderlei suffered an LCL sprain while competing in freestyle competition in Fargo earlier this year in a match against Gilroy’s Daniel Zepeda. Butch commented a bit on the injury.

“We had him wrestle freestyle this year, which is weird in itself, and in the second game against Zepeda he just injured his LCL. He was winning 6-4 but with a grade 2 injury he had to be out for four weeks according to doctors. We made sure he was going slowly and healing well.

The trip to the United States Championships in Fargo, ND has been tough for the Whittingtons this year. With a flight delay turning into a cancellation, the family and crew decided to pack up and drive.

“We had taken long trips to the Tulsa Nationals when Wanderlei was a kid, so we were pretty used to it.” Butch said. “Driving there took some dedication, but we weren’t going to miss it. We had teammates with us and we made it a time. Bowling, pizza, sights to see, it was fun traveling with my family and friends.”

Asked about his wrestling journey so far, Wanderlei spoke about its effects on his life. “Honestly, wrestling has done so much for me. It’s had such a big impact all around. I’ve met so many new and good people who continue to help me, like all of my coaches and teammates. It’s cool to think of all the people I got to know through wrestling, it had a huge impact on me.

“One of my favorite things was all the trips we took to go to tournaments. I’ve been to many places all over the United States and met amazing people that I wouldn’t have been able to see and meet. without this.

Continuing Wanderlei’s journey through college, he mentioned how he felt, confirming his choice to go to the Division I program, Cal State Bakersfield. “It was a great experience. I joined earlier than many other people but I feel I made the right choice. CSB recruited me since the beginning of the junior year, and a few others tried but no one had the same energy as CSB.

It really is a familiar feeling, I spent some time with them and was super happy with it. Plus, it’s pretty close to where we live; I would have seriously missed my family, but luckily it’s not too far. They can come watch me and we can still hang out and stuff.

With plans for this year already in the works, Wanderlei spoke a bit about what he looks forward to this year at Monache after becoming a state qualifier last season.

“I’m really looking forward to keeping in touch with everyone. Even though I’m moving on after this year, it’s been a big confidence boost.

“I’m looking forward to competing this year, I would really like to make the podium in the state if I could. That’s been my big goal for a while now. I’ve been aiming for a medal and to get on that platform; and I almost got there last year.

Robert J. King