During his freshman and junior wrestling seasons, Lee’s Summit North senior Adrian Castaneda had strong showings, but came up short of earning all-state honors both years.
He went 34-10 his junior year and 28-22 his freshman year at 152 pounds. He went a combined 2-4 at state both of those years, and during his sophomore season, he lost in the bubble match in the Class 4 District 3 Tournament despite going 31-11.
But this season might be the one Castaneda breaks through and earns all-state honors. He’s having the best season of his career, and will go into the Class 4 District 4 Tournament at Oak Park High School today and Saturday with a 34-0 record and a No. 3 ranking in the Class 4 160-pound division, according to missouriwrestling.com.
Castaneda isn’t surprised about being unbeaten, and said he doesn’t think about it too much.
“I come in with an open mind, so whatever happens, happens,” he said. “I don’t think about my record or who I am wrestling too much. I just go out and wrestle.”
Lee’s Summit North coach Mick Cronk noted that Castaneda expanded his offensive repertoire and that has helped him have a breakout season.
“What really has impressed me is he’s opened up. Before he would look for only one or two things to score on,” Cronk said. “But this year, he’s really opened up what he’s doing.
“He had one or two combinations on his feet he would try. If he didn’t get one, he would go to the other. If he didn’t get that, he would be shut down. This year, he’s opened up with multiple leg attacks. He’s attacking both sides of the body and is doing a good job with his front headlock. He’s not just looking for one thing, he’s taking what his opponent’s are giving him.”
He’s improved in other aspects, too.
“When he’s on bottom, no one’s been able to ride him,” Cronk said. “He hasn’t gone to his back all year long. On top, he’s been a force. I think right now he’s sitting at 25 or 26 pins. He’s very tough to get out from. He’s been a hammer.”
Castaneda said he’s known most of the new moves he’s recently utilized for a while, but said once he started using them, success has come.
“I shoot more inside steps and shoot more sweeps,” Castaneda said. “There’s a move called the leap that I’ve used a few times.”
Castaneda also noted his confidence is a lot higher than it was his junior year.
“I am expecting myself to do pretty well (in the postseason),” Castaneda said. “I am pretty confident.”
Added Cronk: “He’s confident in his ability to hit on all of his shots and to attack both sides of the body. He’s not hesitating or having self doubt. He’s just hitting everything as hard as he can.”
And all of those improvements not only led to an unbeaten regular season, but some signature wins, including a major decision win over Warrenton’s Jerrett Villinger, a Class 3 state runner-up last season, to win the Winnetonka Invitational title; a 6-2 decision Lindbergh’s Andrew Javier and a pin over Francis Howell Central’s Jonathan Floyd, who’s ranked No. 4 at 160, in the Lee’s Summit Holiday Tournament.
“That was a huge statement win for Adrian,” Cronk said of Castaneda’s win over Floyd.
With districts beginning today, Castaneda is confident he can put together a good performance and make it to state with a top-four finish. Once he’s at state, he will be in a bracket with two other undefeated wrestlers – Belton’s Andrew Gamble (ranked No. 1) and DeSmet’s Cory Peterson (No. 2) – as he attempts to earn that elusive first all-state honor.
“He has the ability,” Cronk said. ‘If he keeps wrestling the way he has, then being all-state and being a state champion is within his reach.”
It’s all-state or bust in the eyes of Castaneda.
“Placing at state would be great, but ultimately that’s not the goal,” he said. “I think being state champ is the real goal. If I don’t at least place, I will be really, really upset with myself.”