Chuy wins gold
There was, undoubtedly, a Jesus Maganda cheering section last weekend at the CHI Health Center in Omaha.
Throughout a run to the state title, anytime Jesus, better known as Chuy (pronounced Chewy), took down an opponent, escaped to start a period or scored back points, cheers rang out at several spots in the arena.
There were many that were there in support of Schuyler’s favorite son.
Yet, underneath all the commotion in the stands, down the runway to the arena floor behind the scenes, stood Maganda thinking about who wasn’t there on that particular evening.
“It feels good. Schuyler’s been through a lot. Schuyler’s been through some tough times,” Maganda said considering the emotions of the moment. “This one means a lot to me because my grandparents, and a couple friends of mine who passed away, they couldn’t be here.”
Chuy became the 10th Schuyler Warrior to be crowned a state champion when he took down Devin Pfeifer of Plattsmouth during a 5-3 decision in the Class B 220-pound title match.
A scoreless matchup after two minutes was broken when Maganda won the toss, chose bottom and escaped in three seconds. He put Pfeifer to the mat a minute later, allowed an escape, but led 3-1 through four minutes.
Pfeifer made it a one-point separation with an escape of his own in the third. The two struggled for control the rest of the way. Maganda fought off Pfeifer’s offense throughout and then sealed the title on a takedown with 23 seconds left.
Chuy was called for a stall warning attempting to stay away after a Pfeifer escape as time wound down, but he did just enough to hear the final whistle, undo his headgear and jump into the waiting arms of coach Jeremy Hlavac for a celebratory hug.
After pointing out the Warrior imprinted on the right thigh of his singlet to the NET TV camera, he headed to the far side of the mat, turned and picked up enough momentum to complete a backflip.
“A lot of people back in town, they wanted me to do a gainer (a type of backflip), so I just did it for them. A lot of the little kids, they don’t believe me that I can do it,” Maganda said. “I don’t know what was going through my head. I guess the adrenaline or something.”
His gainer backflip puts a stamp on a career that saw Maganda take third as a junior during a 38-4 season, finish fourth during a 39-7 season as a sophomore and go 0-2 at state in a 21-17 year as a freshman.
This year alone he went unbeaten at 38-0, won titles at his home invite, at the Central Conference Tournament and at the High Plains Invite.
He was ranked No. 1 for most of the year and lived up to the hype.
In early January, he scored a win over the eventual Class A state champion as well.
“He’s a good wrestler,” Maganda said of his championship opponent. “I just tried to dig deep down and put Schuyler back on the map. I’m just happy right now.”
The Warriors last champion was three years ago, 195-pound title winner Arturo Chavez. Dustin Stodola won three straight before that in the lightweights 2007-2009, but prior to him, Schuyler waited 11 years.
“I wasn’t really nervous at all or just anything. I was just focused. I think more nervous was my mom. She’s just been shaking since, I don’t even know, probably yesterday before my semifinals match,” Maganda said. “This was a good tournament.”
Good for the result, but bittersweet for those that weren’t there.
As Maganda mentioned, he had grandparents who lived in California who were never able to see him compete.
A family friend was set to see him on the gridiron last fall, but she died tragically.
Thus, it was on a day of celebration and recognition for those who brought Chuy to this point, his mind was on those who also helped in their own way that couldn’t be there.
“Grandma and grandpa, a couple friends of mine, family, passed away. I knew them, most of them were going to come down and support me. One family friend, she was going come watch me at our last football game for the first time, but she ended up passing away in a car accident,” Maganda said. “I hope she got a better seat from up top. I hope she was looking down on me and was proud, same with my grandparents.”
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of the Schuyler Sun. Reach him via email at SCHsports@lee.net.