Jesse Mendez isn’t planning on having a typical summer vacation.
Fresh off completing his freshman year at Crown Point, which included a perfect 42-0 record and culminated in a state wrestling title, the 126-pound Mendez isn’t taking any time to relax.
Instead, Mendez will be traveling internationally multiple times this summer to represent the United States in world competition. Mendez will hardly have a moment of down time, and that’s just how the freshly turned 16-year-old likes it.
“I’m focusing on the big picture, the big image right now,” Mendez said. “I know what I want to do and I know what I need to do to get there. I don’t see how going and sitting at the beach is going to help me with those goals.”
Mendez’s first goal is simple: be the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the country. A lofty goal, to be sure, but Mendez is on track to make it happen. He got his summer started off right earlier this month when he traveled to Akron, Ohio, and was named the Outstanding Wrestler after he won the 60 kilogram class in the tournament. Mendez earned national recognition following the meet when he was named the Adidas High School Wrestler of the Week. Mendez also earned a spot on the 10-member team that will represent the United States at the Cadet World Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, July 29 through Aug. 4.
“We were talking to the tournament organizers and they told us Jesse’s weight class this year was the toughest in the history of the tournament,” said Hector Mendez, Jesse's father. “There were 74 people in his bracket, and he had some really tough matches.”
The win in Akron marked Mendez’s second national breakout moment of the offseason. In April, Mendez earned a spot on the 2019 Cadet Pan American Team, which will compete in Morelia, Mexico, later this month. Mendez shined in both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling and was named the lone 60 kilo wrestler on the team.
Between the tournaments in Mexico and Bulgaria, Mendez will spend a month training at the U.S. Olympic facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“I’m the most excited to be going to Bulgaria,” Mendez said. “It’s always been my dream tournament to be in. Then to have a chance to train with the senior world team at the Olympic facility, I’m really looking forward to that opportunity.”
Mendez isn’t forgetting about his roots, either. He went undefeated as a freshman on his way to a state title and he wants to win three more before his time at Crown Point is complete. His goals go beyond simply wanting to win. He wants to make a statement while doing it.
“I want to become a four-time state champion, and I want to be the most dominant to ever do it,” Mendez said.
He’ll have plenty of tough competition between now and the start of next high school wrestling season. He already battled several nationally ranked wrestlers in Akron and now Mendez is ready to take on the world. There is also the task of his top goal, becoming the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the country.
“The goals this summer were to make two world teams and be No. 1 in the country,” Hector said of his son. “He’s up to No. 2 now and he should have a chance in the fall when they have matches to see who is No. 1. He’s just keeping his training up right now and keeping his nutrition going. Those are the important things.”