It’s been way too long since I’ve published something from the “NAIA/D3/D2/JUCO Weighs In” series and I couldn’t think of anyone better to kick this stuff off again with then Alex Lozano of Loras College. Some of you have probably wondered how and why I decide the wrestlers to write about that I do and the most accurate answer for that is that it’s mostly random, but if I notice a wrestler, past or present who consistently gives The Pin Doctors love via liking my posts, sharing them, commenting on them, etc. then your likelihood of seeing a story on here about yourself multiplies substantially, for I definitely notice that, appreciate it and try to make it a point to support anyone who has supported me. And with that said, since Day 1, Alex Lozano has shown my site, my family, etc. as much or more support than anyone out there and I have always appreciated him for that. I have never met him in person, but I can just tell by the comments he has made on many wrestling-related articles that he is a good man who has a deep appreciation for wrestling and for that, I am truly honored to put this one together for him and am happy to learn about HIS wrestling journey after all the time he has spent learning and supporting others’ journeys.
And on another personal note, as a Loras Wrestling alum myself, it’s refreshing to see that Loras Wrestling continues to produce such great wrestling talent as well as wonderful people.
PINDOX: Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?
-To be honest, I actually started wrestling really late as opposed to others. I started when I was 15 in HS thinking it was WWE. I really had nothing else to go for at the time so I had nothing to lose giving it a shot. The rest is history
PINDOX: Do you have any family who wrestled or wrestles currently? Parents, children, brothers, etc.? How did they do?
-Actually my family never played sports or weren’t the type to be involved and stuff which was fine, it let me solidify my own love for the sport as opposed to other parents who live through their kids. My cousin joined wrestling a year after I did and was a natural. He placed 6th at State his freshman year at 106. The following year he hit a growth spurt and wrestled 126, however fell in the blood round. He still loves the sport and keeps track of stuff going on. Besides him, no one else in my family really played sports, haha.
PINDOX: What was your record in HS?
-I actually never really kept track of my record, all I know was each year I was constantly improving day after day. I do know according to LAWrestlingNews my junior year record was 24-12 and my senior year record was 16-12. Since I was the only kid on the East Jefferson wrestling team my senior year, I couldn’t wrestle dual meets which was a huge chunk of matches, only tournaments. That year was rough, however I learned a lot about myself.
PINDOX: How did you place at state every year?
-Freshman year I didn’t place at state after a few weeks into wrestling. My Sophomore year I left wrestling out of pure frustration with life and the spot was given to someone else. I came back junior year with a new frame of mind and went 1-2. That summer I wrestled every week and lifted weights coming back senior year going up 2 weights with a 6th place finish at 160lbs. After myself, no one else placed at state from East Jefferson. I really do hope someone comes in and makes the finals or wins state for the program. It would be the first in over 30 years since Jim Ravannack (Former USA Wrestling President) and Craig Seals
PINDOX: What were some of the most notable adverse challenges or moments you experienced in wrestling and how did it turn out?
-The most notable experience I had with wrestling was the summer of 18. After a rough state tournament I switched clubs and joined Scorpion Wrestling Club at the Louisiana South Regional Training Center. I had little to no money and my parents weren’t making much so I was worried about paying for proper training. However, the coaches took me in and trained me, fed me sometimes, and made sure I had the tools to succeed. That year I was exposed to training with notable wrestlers such as World Teamer Dalton Roberts, Olympic Trials Qualifier Austin Morrow, Kendrick Sanders you name it! I remember helping out at Jim Ravannack’s house and he had Jordan Burroughs staying at his place. I turn around and the kid inside me was like “Oh my goodness I’m in the same house as JB!”. It was also his birthday, overall it was a great experience. I got to connect with many of my teammates from Team Louisiana; many wrestling in college today. Two of them are my teammates in Luke Battaglia and Dylan Lauriano. I gained a ton of confidence and belief in myself most importantly that summer. Coming off a rough state tournament; I was taking down some guys who placed at state or made the finals. It just shows you have to believe in yourself and trust your training.
PINDOX: How would you describe your wrestling style?
-I’d say I’m very explosive and love to come in your face all the time heavy and smart. A lot of my teammates tell me I’m very explosive and I was like “wait really?” haha.
PINDOX: Who was your most influential coach?
– I’ve had lots of coaches over the years however the coach that really stuck out to me was Patrick Ritchie. So after my junior year of high school I joined Scorpion Wrestling Club. Patrick Ritchie is the head coach of the club and helped me tremendously that summer. He still today is helping me mentally and physically getting better at wrestling and being a better person. You know as a teenager I wasn’t the best at making decisions; sometimes I made decisions that costed me tremendously like having bad grades/ACT and a lot that could’ve been avoided such as family and wrestling stuff. Overall it was his love for wrestling and making me a better person in life that struck me. Sometimes coaches really only care about wrestling most of the time which is understandable, however Pat always made sure that I was a great human being and ready for life. I consider Pat basically like a father that I never had because he took so much time to make me a better person and wrestler even his own sons who wrestle for Scorpions consider me their brother and that really touched my heart. Throughout the years I felt tremendous love and that love still fuels me today as I try to get better each day. That’s when I learned that sometimes life is more than just wrestling. It’s about the relationships you build and the person you become. Patrick Ritchie wrestled for Archbishop Rummel in the 90s and was a state champion. He then wrestled for Colby Community College with Daniel Cormier and numerous others such as Chad Boudreaux who wrestled at UNI. After graduating from Colby, he went to the University of Nebraska Kearney where he wrestled 125 and represented the college at conference. I still keep in touch with Ritchie today and he’s a huge reason why I’m still wrestling because at one point when I was at my lowest of lows after my senior year, I really had nothing going for me at the time besides a dead-end job, unhealthy lifestyle, and some mental health issues going on. He was the one who convinced me to give it a shot and said if things don’t go right you can always go back to a community college back home. Little did I know once I left Louisiana it was history and now I never wanna leave Iowa haha, but yeah the joining SWC and partnering with Coach Ritchie changed my life for the greater good. I hope to one day give back to someone like Ritchie did to me in probably my toughest moment of life.
PINDOX: What was the most upset you ever felt after a loss?
-So after my sophomore year, I came back to wrestling with a new frame of mind after numerous family issues were getting in the way of my education and wrestling. I had a very great year coming into state with a winning record, feeling I did everything right. After day one I went 1-2 and did not place at state. I remember just leaving the mat crying in tears and locked myself in a closed room. I was just disappointing in myself and kept telling God why. I did everything right, I ate clean, I slept good, I made sure I had great management why. Then I realized God had a better plan. Sometimes I thank God for the loss and not placing at state; sometimes not even winning state because I know I wouldn’t be able to handle that kind of success at the time. I would’ve been really cocky, arrogant , and that’s exactly not who I want to be. Had it not been for not placing at state junior year, I probably wouldn’t have met Coach Ritchie and maybe even switch clubs because I would’ve been too complacent; so sometimes I like to believe there’s a blessing and I truly believe everything happens for a reason in God‘s plan.
PINDOX: Was your team competitive in HS/college?
-My high school team was not really competitive in high school. My freshman year we did ok placing top 12 at the state which was good for the program at the time, however as the years went by people started quitting and leaving the team so basically I was the only one scoring points for the team at state my senior year. Back in the 80s however East Jefferson used to be a powerhouse in Louisiana wrestling with guys such as Craig Seals, George Trygg, and Jim Ravannack who formally was the USA Wrestling president from Louisiana. Iowa Lakes was competitive with guys on the team who had enough talent to go D1 and a few guys who had what it took to win NJCAA and All-American. The room was just really tough and it was hard nosed, gritty, basically everything you could think of an Iowa wrestling room. Coming from Louisiana to a solid JUCO program was a HUGE level jump and that year I saw what it took to be successful in college wrestling. At NJCAA nationals we did place top-13. After graduating from Iowa Lakes I transferred to Loras. Rankings aside, I consider Loras the number one team in NCAA D3 right now. The room is super tough, technical, and they just do everything right here. I truly trust Coach TJ Miller and Coach Jeren Glosser that everything they put us through is for our good to be ready. Overall it seems to be paying off as we are currently working towards a national championship in March. The difference between the programs is that winning is expected at Loras and we’re expected to be champions on and off the mat.
PINDOX: Who was your most influential wrestler that you looked up to growing up?
-Believe it or not a lot of people may say Jordan Burroughs or Cael Sanderson haha however, I really loved watching Brian Realbuto. He wrestled for Cornell at 157 and had a really wild match against Ian Miller in which he made the finals. The thing that struck me the most of his style was his scrambling ability and the way he moves in his stances. Also his attacks are super crisp. Seeing him wrestle 157 and bumping up to 174 still wrestling very well showed me you really don’t have to cut much weight to be successful in this sport. I sometimes wish I could get in touch with him and pick his brain for a little bit. The closes connection I may have is Byrd graduate from Louisiana Jacob Yawn who’s also at Cornell haha.
PINDOX: How do you feel your skills have changed since going to Loras?
-Since coming to Loras, I actually started believing in myself a lot more and truly believing that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to because I’m surrounded by absolute monsters in this room. I told myself that every day I’m training with possibly the best wrestlers in the country in this division and I’m just as prepared to dominate in a match. One thing that gave me confidence was TJ Miller reached the pinnacle in this sport in this division winning the NCAA championship and Jeron Glosser wrestled for possibly the best team in America right now in the Iowa Hawkeyes and he truly wrestles at an NCAA Champ level. I believe there any drill practice work out that Miller put his true is exactly what we need to reach our goals to be an all American national champion or even when the team title. Not only that, but the love the team has for each other, the camaraderie, the brotherhood; that love fuels us and it reminds me of the same love that brought back my love for wrestling to compete in college when I went through a rough patch after my senior year. It’s something I needed and it’s a fuel in the fire that helps me get out of bed. I know that when I’m wrestling, I’m fighting for everyone on the team, for my brothers so that we can be successful and bring back the NCAA team championship to Loras where it belongs. I’m getting goosebumps right now thinking about it. Being a part of something great is a blessing.
PINDOX: How did you end up at Loras?
-So I actually wanted to be a Duhawk my junior year of high school. I was pretty close to 2x All-American Eddie Smith and his best friend Keegan Gilligan who also wrestled back in Louisiana for Airline High School. Fast forward one more year, I got a low score on the ACT and had no choice but to go community college because I couldn’t afford to go to even a college back home such as Loyola or LSU (both don’t have wrestling programs). After my freshman year of college I took a visit to Loras and I really enjoyed it. I didn’t commit right away or even a month after. I waited over half a year to make sure if this was really what I wanted and one day I called TJ Miller and told him I was in; the rest being history. I made sure that no matter what happened at Iowa Lakes, I needed to get that degree which I did in 2021 which solidified my spot into Loras with a good transfer scholarship.
PINDOX: Does D3 have potential to grow the fan base?
-I truly believe D3 with new podcast coming out, personalities being shown, and just more exposure that there is a possibility to grow the fan base to even the wrestling fan who possibly just watches D1 or Senior to watch D3 and knowing these guys can compete and are just as tough as a D1 wrestlers. It’s going to take some time however in 10 years or maybe even less I think D3 will have more notoriety.
One guy from Loras in particular is Shane Liegel. I truly believe he has the talent to be successful in division one and he’s an example of someone you want to be on and off the mat.
PINDOX: Who was the fiercest competitors you have faced at the D3 level?
-One semester into Loras I haven’t had much matches however I had a rematch from two years ago against the Luther starter at 174 who beat me pretty good my freshman year and this year I had a close match. Just made a few minor mistakes however I know next time I I’m gonna beat him and that includes everyone else I have to wrestle knowing the confidence I have wrestling for the best team in the country.
PINDOX: How do some of the D1 and D3 guys compare to each other from your experience? Do you feel some D3 guys can compete at that level?
-Yes, I 100% believe D3 guys can compete in the Division I level. I see guys like Shane Liegel, Jacob Krakow, Brady Vogel, and a lot of others who can make some noise in the D1 level. That also includes D3 wrestlers from other colleges. I know they have what it takes to do well in all levels.
PINDOX: Where was your best performance this year?
-Overall my best performance was probably the toughest tournament of the year in CUW open. I went 3-2 against tough competition and I remember Coach Miller saying the day before that some All-Americans and good wrestlers will go 0-2 so that gave me a ton of confidence going into these next few competitions that I can wrestle at this level and make a name for myself. Having a great warmup was key.
PINDOX: If you could go back and change one thing about your wrestling career, what would it be?
– Honestly, if I could go back and change some thing it would just be to implement more mental training and start believing in yourself. This means visualizing your moves, your warm-up, and your technique. Mark Schwab came and spoke to us last week about inches and ounces which can mean some matches are won through little things that make a huge difference. I’m doing it now every morning, however, I wish I would’ve start visualizing at least 10 minutes a day early in my career. I’m seeing the difference it’s making now just mentally and physically in my performance.
PINDOX: Do you see yourself coaching someday?
– Similar to how Ritchie did for me, I see myself working a job possibly back in the NOLA area and coaching for Scorpion Wrestling Club. Not sure if I will have the time to commit to a high school, however I just want to help everybody from all ages and levels for free just like the SWC coaches did for me. I feel a huge barrier to coaching is that some coaches are over priced and will charge a tremendous amount of money which can leave kids not getting the consistency of training they need. My goal would be to mold great human beings and wrestlers. I want them to succeed in the classroom and be great people, wrestling success will come naturally through consistency.
PINDOX: What is your best wrestling memory/accomplishment? How hard did you work?
-My best wrestling memory was probably winning my quarterfinals my senior year knowing that I’m going to be on the podium after four years of falling short and not even coming close. That feeling has not been felt in a long time and that summer being exposed to high-level wrestling helped me tremendously working a job, wrestling numerous hours a week, and lifting a lot of weights around the time. I learned a lot about myself and I love how you get what you put in the sport of wrestling.
PINDOX: Did you wrestle all year or was it seasonal for you?
-I usually wrestled all year. I really had nothing else to do after school, maybe work twice a week occasionally, so I would practice, coach, and compete when I could. Just making the best of my time.
PINDOX: What other sports did you play?
-When I was a kid, I used to play football however, I kind of lost interest realizing that I wanted to control my own destiny. That’s what wrestling allowed me to do. Occasionally I will do jujitsu at NOLA MMA, but besides that just grappling. Maybe MMA in the future? No one knows haha!
PINDOX: What are your favorite sports teams?
-My favorite sports teams are the Loras Duhawks, New Orleans Saints, and New Orleans Pelicans. Fun fact I live down the street from the Saints/Pelicans training center.
PINDOX: What are your hobbies?
-My hobbies will often include reading, listening to music, watching movies, and hiking occasionally. I just enjoy going outside and especially in Iowa with the snow it’s amazing because we never got snow in Louisiana. I also do enjoy comedy as sometimes the team considers me a very funny person haha!
PINDOX: How has wrestling shaped you as a person to this day?
-Wrestling taught me humility, how to handle failure, how to handle success, and staying healthy. Wrestling taught me that you can control the controllables in what you do day in and day out. It gave me the discipline needed to get stuff done such as schoolwork, workouts, and even work situations that I don’t feel like doing. I learned that you’re feelings are irrelevant and you have to get stuff done. Wrestling also taught me to give back to the next generation just like the generation before me helped me. Lastly wrestling taught me that hard work, boy oh boy, hard work sure does pay off!
PINDOX: Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?
-Don’t cut a lot of weight especially when you’re young. Focus on developing and loving the sport. Take it day by day and know that in God’s perfect timing, things will work for the best. Don’t worry about rankings, just focus on what you can control.
PINDOX: Would you like to give a shout out to anyone you wrestled with, against, coached, etc.?
-Shoutout to Coach Carlos Bertot (Veteran), John Kent (Greco), Patrick Ritchie (UNK), KeVon Powell (Ohio U), Jeren Glosser (IOWA) , TJ Miller (Loras), Cody Alesch (Wartburg), Jerry Crump, Ryan Kline, Nick Micheal (Wartburg), my team at Loras and anyone I’ve been teammates with. I love every single one of you!
PINDOX: Do you have anything to add? Funny/interesting stories? Trivia? Etc.
-So after practice the team at Loras went out to eat breakfast. I got my pancakes and I proceeded to put syrup and ketchup on my pancakes. The team was in shock and they joked about it pretty good, but in my book it tasted pretty great haha!
Fun Fact: I was the first college wrestler from EJ in over 30 years since Craig Seals and Jim Ravannack.