Former Hayden wrestler earns All-American honors

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Lino Estrada wrestles for Grand Canyon University. He graduates this year as an All-American. Submitted

Copper Basin News

John Avelino Estrada, a.k.a., “Lino,” a 2009 graduate of Hayden High School, earned All-American Honors at Grand Canyon University for 2013-14 season. Estrada, a senior at GCU, was a 3-time state champion while a student-athlete at Hayden.

Lino started wrestling when he was five years old, according to his father, John. Lino was inspired to wrestle by another Hayden graduate and 2-time state champion, Mark Cruz.

John recalled driving throughout Arizona on Saturdays in the summer so Lino could participate in Freestyle and Greco tournaments to learn and improve his wrestling techniques.

When Lino turned eight years old, he was recruited to join the Maryvale Wrestling Club. John made the 2-hour drive, one way, twice per week with the idea that Lino would learn from some of the best wrestlers in the state. John kept this commitment for 10 years, until his son graduated from Hayden.

The Maryvale Wrestling Club included many seasoned wrestlers who had won state championships. Lino would learn and compete against some of the best competition in the state. Henry Cejudo, a 2008 Gold Medalist at the Beijing Olympics, was a member of the Maryvale Wrestling Club at the same time Lino was.

In addition to working with the wrestlers at Maryvale, Lino would also workout at Sunnyside, Cesar Chavez and Marcos de Niza High Schools.

“I (took him to other schools) so he would pick up different wrestling techniques,” John explained. “(He would) learn different moves, philosophies and strategies from different coaches.”

Lino would later be a member of three different wrestling clubs. In addition to the Maryvale Wrestling Club, he was also a member of the Sunkist Wrestling Club and the Hayden Wrestling Club.

As a result of his dedication and wrestling ability, Lino began competing in National tournaments across the United States. He traveled to California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Montana, and Nebraska.

In Jr. High, Lino was a 3-time Jr. High Region Champion and finished his Jr. High career with a record of 111 – 18.

At Hayden, the accolades and championships continued for Lino. His accomplishments during his high school career included being state runner-up as a freshman, 3-time state champion (10th, 11th, & 12th grades), 2-time State Championships Outstanding Wrestler, 4-time region champion, and numerous Outstanding Wrestling Awards.

He finished with a career record at Hayden of 193 – 4, including being undefeated during his junior and senior years, 100 – 0.

All of Lino’s hard work and dedication paid off after he graduated from Hayden when he earned a wrestling scholarship from Grand Canyon University.

Lino redshirted his freshman year in 2009. The following year, he was injured and in 2011 he was the varsity starter in the 133-class. His breakout season came in 2012, his junior year. He was one of five GCU wrestlers to qualify for nationals. He finished the season as runner-up at the Super Region IV/RMAC Championships Div. II.

In 2013, his senior season at GCU, Lino wrestled again in the 133-class and had a record of 30 – 13. He was the NCWA Region Champion and placed 3rd at the NCWA Collegiate National Championships. He also earned All-American Honors. He was a member of the GCU Wrestling team that won the NCWA National Championship and the NCWA Collegiate Cup.

Lino credits many of coaches for his success, including Dan and Mark Cruz, Rick Ruiz, Richard Fimbres, and, of course, his father John Estrada.

“I was fortunate to have coached him during his career,” John said. “But all the credit goes out to his other coaches who helped mold him and have made him what he is today.”

Lino is scheduled to graduate in 2014 with a degree in Healthcare Administration. Wrestling was and is a big part of Lino’s life. It provided him the opportunity to get a college education. He hopes his story of triumph can inspire at least one child who wants to be a wrestler.

It would be the perfect ending to have a five year-old child say that Lino Estrada was his, or her, inspiration to wrestle like Mark Cruz was to Lino.

Andy Luberda (732 Posts)

Andy Luberda began writing for Copper Area News Publishers (CANP) in February 2013 after working15 years in Healthcare Financial Management. Andy covers sports for eight high schools. His stories are published in the Southeast Valley Ledger, Copper Basin News, San Manuel Miner and Superior Sun. Additionally, he has written human interest stories and business profiles. In May 2012, he earned an AAS in Sports Management at Central Arizona College. Andy is currently earning a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from ASU’s Hugh Downs School of Communication. Andy is scheduled to complete his degree December 2014. He was born and raised in Des Plaines, Ill. In 1992, he relocated to Arizona. After a short return to Des Plaines in 1997, he returned to the Phoenix area two years later. He and his wife, Kelli, have three sons – AJ, Kyle, and Kade.


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