Time out! Ep.1: Hayden Ancheta

Sitting down with wrestler Hayden Ancheta to discuss stories from his time in wresting

Kathryn Foo

K: Hi everyone, my name is Kathryn Foo and welcome to episode one of Time Out!. Each episode, we will be diving into the sports scene here at Monta Vista and explore the journeys of athletes from various sports. In this episode, I’m joined by senior Hayden Ancheta, who recently finished up his last season on the Monta Vista wrestling team. Let’s get into it. So, how did you get into wrestling? When did you start?

H: So I did wrestling for a month in eighth grade, but it was more of just trying out a sport and it was because my friend was like, you’d be good at it, but I didn’t really take it seriously. And then In ninth grade, once Covid hit, I started taking it really, really, really seriously.

K: Why so? what made you begin to take that seriously?

H: I had big aspirations and I still do in this sport. I wanted to become a state champion. I want to go compete at the highest level, compete nationally, and compete internationally. Yeah, the whole shebang.

K: Can you talk to us a little bit about how you kind of plan to do that because you talk about your goals and your aspirations but what have you been doing to pursue them?

H: Ever since the start of Covid, I have worked out, not worked out but trained in the sport, every single day besides Sundays or one break day. I pretty much have put in the work for the past three and a half years. I just believe that if you work really hard you can get to where you want to be, or at least get better at what you’re pursuing.

K: Let’s walk through that sort of wrestling journey and the commitment that you have put into the sport. So, obviously, as of right now, you’re a very successful wrestler. When did you first begin seeing signs of your success in the sport?

H: I think definitely my junior year during the offseason, which is not really an offseason for wrestlers. It’s a different season because there’s different styles of wrestling. I saw huge jumps in what I was able to do, mainly because during that offseason, I was training at my club, which has probably one of the best coaching staffs in all of California. I can say that truthfully because the rich history of wrestling in that room is by far just superior to any other dressing room in California. They helped me get a lot better and especially since I wanted to learn I wanted to be there and I was ambitious, still am. It worked out. That year, I went from not going to state during school season to qualifying for nationals and beating a couple of ranked guys. 

K: Do you have specific highlights? You were talking about that junior year off-season.

H: I had a lot of funny moments in junior year where I beat a pretty good kid but I had no idea of it because no one told me until after the match or previously. An example would be during junior year, we had this one thing called association duels, which is essentially an all-star team that you have to be chosen to get on to it. And then they sent me into a match and I had no idea who I was wrestling, but he apparently was the returning national finalist, but I had no idea. Yeah, well, I ended up going out there. I ended up teching him which in other terms is, a tech is a mercy rule. So essentially, I was up ten to zero, so they ended the match. So I won. I walked off the mat thinking eh that was cool, but I had no idea who I just beat. I went back to my coaches and they were just like, Do you know who you just be? I was like, no idea. They’re like, you just beat a Fargo finalist, which Fargo is nationals. And I was like, Oh, wow. Damn, yeah. I didn’t believe them at first, but then my teammates, who then became my friends, were like, Yeah, you beat a really, really, really good kid. We thought you were gonna get your butt kicked. And I was like, Oh, thanks, guys. They didn’t tell me. They didn’t tell me going into it. They just kind of were like, oh yeah, we’ll see how he does.

K: Yeah, if he gets his butt kicked.

H: Yeah, that’s kind of because I ended up going, I ended up qualifying for nationals, Fargo, and then that’s how I kind of ended up getting my name out there. After that, a lot of people from around the state started knowing who I was after that win. 

H: Then, at Fargo, another situation happened where I think it was the round of 32 in the tournament. I beat a returning all-American, which means he placed at the tournament the previous year in a shootout match. It was really close. It was 14-11, right? I knew he was good, but I had no idea he was a returning all-American and I figured that out after the tournament was over. I was like, what the heck.

H: I’ve had that happen during senior year as well. This one’s probably the worst one. So, I went to this tournament in Vegas called Freak Show and it’s a lower-tier national tournament, but it’s still a national tournament, and I entered the elite bracket, which is basically a bit harder, more higher level people go into this bracket.  I think you would call it a breakthrough tournament for me because I ended up making the finals at that tournament, which was a pretty big deal for me at least because that was like the first tournament that was like a pretty well known hard tournament. There’s a guy that I’d beat in the quarter[finals] and it was a really close match. It was like five-three, but he was ranked like number nine in the country and I had no idea. My parents told me about it before I knew about it. And I figured out the night after we were flying back to California. My dad was like, you had one kid that you wrestled. He was pretty good. And I was like, yeah, yeah, he was pretty good. He was like, No, like Hayden. He was like, his record, he’s only lost two matches. That’s crazy. So yeah, that was my first, I think, nationally-ranked win. 

K: I think people need to start telling you stuff beforehand. 

H: I mean, kind of because there’s this thing. You don’t want to psych yourself out before the match, right? So, they just, they don’t tell me, that kind of lets me wrestle the way I want to wrestle. If I knew that guy was ranked ninth in the country, I might have wrestled differently or my mindset would have been maybe different.

K: This is just a follow-up question to that, but how big would you say mental is for a sport like wrestling?

H: I know so many great technical wrestlers that just did not go far in the sport at all, simply because their mentality wasn’t where it was supposed to be. And it’s not like they didn’t train hard or something like that. When people think mentality, they’re thinking like, oh they didn’t have the right mental to, you know, go to practice or they’re lazy, but that’s simply not the case. In wrestling, it’s a combat sport and people don’t get that. When you’re out on the mat with someone else, you’re alone. You don’t have anyone else and in that moment, there’s a bit of an adrenaline rush. You don’t get a more real feeling than that, unless you’re punching someone in the face. People can really get psyched out that way, especially in any combat sport. I don’t think you really get that any other sport. But, it’s a very hard sport. It’s pretty brutal. I would say it’s one of the hardest. No, it’s the hardest sport in the world. 

H: I think a good way of putting it that kind of sums everything up. In mixed martial arts, the highest percentage of fighters that become champions are wrestlers, and that you could say is attributed to their style, or their ability to control the ground game, but it’s also because of the mentality. Wrestlers have to consistently cut weight on a pretty much regular basis throughout the season and you have to stay focused and you have to just ignore the pain while you’re doing it. It’s not something that a lot of people can do. That’s usually what makes people quit. Other sports you’re competing, and you know you can be nervous and you can be all this and all that, but when you’re wrestling, you’re not wrestling at 100%. You’re wrestling after you starved yourself for 15 pounds and you’re competing on half of what you really can do. And in the room, you got to ignore the pain and just cut the weight and that’s probably the hardest part. I think consistently during the season. I was cutting around 10 to 15 pounds. You just have to keep your goals in mind. Ignore the pain

K: It’s really interesting to learn about just the mental part because wrestling is a very physical sport.

H: My coaches say it’s 15-85 or 10-90 in terms of mental because, to be honest, I’ve seen some pretty average-looking Joes be really, really, really good at wrestling.

K: So it’s 15-85. Which one’s the 15? Which one’s the 85?

H: 15 is physical. 85 is mental.

K: Got it. That’s not the way I thought. You would’ve thought it was the other way around.

H: Yeah, a lot of people think wrestling is a macho man’s sport, but it’s not. It’s a chess match that you’re thinking 20 moves ahead every single time. Yeah, just to get to a person’s legs, you have to have a setup. If that setup doesn’t work, you have to have a setup for that. But, let’s say they shoot on you. But then, you have to counter that and then find a way to get your offense going. It’s a giant chess match.

K: I’m gonna go into a slightly different thing. So, on your Instagram, you do this series called some odd days to reality.

H: Originally it was when quarantine first started, I started this little thing to just keep me going. It was called something days of F Corona. And it was just me training every single day. But then, halfway through, I realized Corona is not even a thing anymore, so I changed it to “Dreams to reality” and that’s still going on. So I think it’s been going on for three and a half years.

K: Yeah. Do you know what day you’re roughly on? 

H: I think 807.

K: 807. That’s crazy. I guess it’s cheesy to ask, what has this series meant to you? Why do you do it?

H: I wanted to start really putting in the work and that was a way to get me to start doing it, grinding every single day. But once that habit broke, I was able to just, you know, it’s weird for me not to do something now. So yeah, I didn’t really need it anymore. But, what’s funny is I was like, Yeah, I’m gonna stop it. But then a lot of my friends and a lot of the people,just random people, were just like, please don’t. I was like, why? And they’re like, it’s just a big inspiration. I was like, huh maybe I’ll just keep on doing it. You know, to help. I don’t know if it will help other people, but I guess it does.

K: How does it feel knowing that to certain people, you are an inspiration, especially in the wrestling community?

H: It’s kind of weird. I have a TikTok and it kind of blew up during I think, junior year and it’s funny because, whenever I go to tournaments, oh my goodness, people just come up to me and they’re like, are you Hayden? Oh, you’re a huge inspiration. Then, they’ll ask for pictures. I’ll play it off cool, but in my head, I’m just like, oh, wow, this is really cool. But it doesn’t really hit me. It’s kind of weird when someone comes up to me it’s like, you’re a huge inspiration. It’s just, it doesn’t click in my head. Does that really? It’s the stuff you see on TV and you’re just like, ah!

K: I’ve seen you partnered with certain brands and things like that. Would you call yourself a wrestling content creator? What would you classify yourself when it comes to these things?

H: That’s a good question. I don’t know. I’m a wrestler that has a TikTok that blew up. I don’t know, you could say, I think I definitely use content creator because for the past four or five years, content creation has been a big passion of mine. Even before wrestling, I would upload video game stuff. And that was pretty fun. But content creation has always been fun, the ability to film something and then edit it and post it. That was always something that I found really cool. And when wrestling came, I just started making a lot of content on that so I guess you can call me that. Maybe an athlete content creator because I make other stuff besides wrestling, but I’d say wrestling is the main base. 

K: Okay, and then can you talk about, you did have a rise in popularity? How did you feel when that was happening? 

H: I posted stuff to have fun and I kind of had an idea that I would go viral simply because of just the way the algorithm works, and everything in the content I was posting. I felt like I was going to, like something was gonna happen, but no, not really. To be honest, it was kind of just, once I started picking on how to follow the trends, and then how to get those videos that will blow up and grow your platform, I was like, yeah, I can do this. I’ll keep growing it. This seems cool. Because at the end of the day, there’s only benefits to it, to be honest. I mean, my coaches won’t agree. They’re also old school, so I get it, but there’s only benefits on my end, so I’m going to keep on doing it.

K: Do you have any specific goals with your platform, or things you want to do with it? Think you want to keep doing with it?

H: Going into college, I plan on majoring in marketing.

K: Oh, that’s fitting.

H: Yeah. So especially with what Tik Tok has been able to do and then Instagram, and then YouTube. Growing a platform and growing a community and also getting sponsors and then making money off of it. That’s all really helping me grow, as, I wouldn’t say as a person, but just what I want to do past college and past everything. I’m not saying I’m going to become a YouTuber or whatever. That’s kind of, I don’t know, but you know, maybe starting a business or marketing, I said. Especially since I’m an athlete, there’s a huge market for that. So I can definitely see myself creating content in the future 100%.

K: Then do you attribute majoring in marketing to your success and your wrestling TikTok?

H: Yeah, I find a lot of fun and making content. I’ve had a passion for it for a really long time. My parents have always been like, you don’t want to do something that you don’t enjoy in life. And that’s probably one of the reasons why I chose a major so late a lot of the people in the school. They know what they want to be straight out of middle school, which is kind of crazy. But I literally chose my major halfway through senior year and I still am not 100%. I changed it like three times but you know, it’s, it’s whatever. Whatever I do in college, I hope I enjoy and it’s probably going to be something to do with content creation or something along those lines because that’s really just a big passion of mine. 

K: So yeah, I’m gonna bring this kind of full circle. You’re talking about your goals with the content creation side, but what are your ultimate aspirations when it comes to actually wrestling?

H: There’s stages, right? So right now, I want to become a Fargo national champion, which is obviously nationals, the biggest national tournament you can go to as a high schooler, and that’s coming up this summer. I need to qualify for it, but I should be good. I qualified last year. I’m chilling, to be honest. I’m ready. I’m ready to go now, to be honest. In college, I want to become an NCAA champion, at the highest level. Then, past that, The dream would definitely be to compete internationally, whether that be for the US or for the Philippines, or for maybe Japan. I’m not sure, Japan is pretty good, and so is the US. Philippines, maybe. But I definitely want to compete internationally. That’s really where you see the highest levels of wrestling and freestyle and Greco. That’s the style of wrestling that you see in the Olympics. So that would be a pretty, pretty big goal of mine. That is probably one of, that’s the top of my bucket list: going out and competing internationally.

H: And then once I do that, it’ll probably change to being, Alright, I want to go and win internationally. I want to go to the Olympics. I want to win the Olympics. I want to qualify for the Olympic team. There’s just goals that you just keep on making for yourself. And then if I ever get to the top which you know, if I keep putting in the work, hopefully, it happens. Then I rest. But yeah, there’s always something.

K: That’s it for Episode 1 of Time Out! Thank you so much Hayden for talking with me. I’m Kathryn Foo, and thanks for tuning in!