Finding Strength in the Strings

Senior athlete builds skills through performing arts

Tenley Wright, Chief Photographer

From February 20th through the 22nd, five Millard West wrestlers competed in the NSAA State Wrestling Championships at the CHI Center.

Finishing as runner-up in the class A 160 weight class was senior Ethan Valencia. Although this wasn’t the desired result for Valencia, he’s glad he has had the opportunity to represent his school at so many events throughout his high school wrestling career.

After winning his semi-final match, Valencia collected his 100th career win and moved onto the finals, where he dropped the match to Maxx Mayfield of Lincoln East.

Photo by Tenley Wright Senior Ethan Valencia celebrates a win at State Wrestling. Not only did the victory send him into the finals, it was also his 100th win. “It honestly felt great,” Valencia said. “I feel very blessed to have been able to do everything I did and I’m very thankful.”

“It honestly felt great,” Valencia said. “I feel very blessed to have been able to do everything I did and I’m very thankful.”

He became familiar with the sport of wrestling while he was doing taekwondo. He didn’t think it was aggressive enough and switched over to wrestling.

“I was actually introduced to the sport of wrestling by Ethan in middle school,” senior Nate Hartman said. “I wasn’t big enough to play football so he took me to a practice and I just fell in love with the sport as it took heart and hard work to be successful rather than any other sport where you could just be born tall or be bigger than the rest.”

Both Hartman (A126) and senior Wyatt May (A120) placed sixth in their weight classes and earned their first state medals after a weekend packed full of matches.

Photo By Tenley Wright
Senior Nate Hartman celebrates after a win against Omaha Burke. Hartman finished sixth in the State tournament. “A Lot of work went into my season this year. I traveled across the country with the Nebraska National this summer competing in places like Tulsa, Oklahoma to Fargo, North Dakota. I trained everyday at MWC Wrestling Academy, watched my diet to get down to weight, and did hundreds of hours of physical therapy recovering from a dislocated shoulder. My training partner throughout my whole career has been Wyatt May. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him pushing me to reach my goals.”

Millard West offers a wide range of sports and activities for students to get involved in, allowing them to be creative, meet new people, or show off their athletic abilities. Valencia has taken advantage of these opportunities and, along with wrestling, is involved in Football and Orchestra.

 At an even younger age, Valencia was introduced to the art of music.

“I honestly feel like doing multiple sports and activities at a time really helped me,” Valencia said. “What I learned the most out of all the activities here is that hard work and dedication defeats all.”

His mom, Lyuda Valencia got him into the violin when he was five years old, and since then he has switched to the Viola. Music has been part of the Valencia family for generations. Ethan and his two brothers are now a part of this tradition.

“Music, besides beauty, creates valuable opportunities for youth development,” Lyuda Valencia said.” It taught him focus, patience, timing, passion, being comfortable in front of people and how to interact in adult environments early on. ”

Photo by Tenley Wright
Senior Ethan Valencia plays his viola during orchestra class. Valencia hopes to attend college on a music scholarship. “What I learned from doing all these activities is that hard work and dedication defeats all.”

Valencia’s involvement in sports and music has gifted him with exceptional time management skills and discipline. Each skill learned from one activity carries over to the others.

“Music and the arts have impacted his ability to see a tough situation as something to overcome rather than give up as so many do,” Lyuda Valencia said.”  He has learned to be humble, respect others, see value in teachers, and to be disciplined at his current activities while recognizing long term goals and setting up paths to achieve these goals.”

While he won’t continue to wrestle after high school, Valencia is hoping to attend college on a music scholarship and plans to double major in Pre Med and Performing Arts. It’s clear that music is something he will carry with him long into his future, and the skills he gained will continue to benefit him.