Senior Warrior Daniel “DJ” Perez wants to cap his wrestling career as a state champion.
Daniel “DJ” Perez is one of only two seniors on the West Orange High wrestling team and is one of the squad’s anchors. Perez, who was a regional champion and state qualifier last year, hopes to finish his time at the school as a state champion and work his way into a collegiate wrestling program.
When did you first get into wrestling?
My dad convinced me to go to the tryouts my freshman year. At first it was tough, but then I got close with the wrestlers, and they kind of helped me through it — all the seniors.
What has motivated you to stay in the sport for four years?
Probably the fact that I wrestled varsity in my first year, and I’ve been getting further in the sport every year. I’m just motivated to do better than I did last year.
What has been the biggest challenge?
Probably the losses, because the biggest thing is overcoming those losses and beating the people you lose to.
How do you get past those tough losses?
After a match, you realize — at least for me — if it’s a close match, I know I can beat him next time, and I know I’m at that level where I can beat anybody I go up against.
Do you have a highlight moment from your time at West Orange?
Probably the regionals from last year — I won that tournament and qualified for states. It was a fun tournament, because we stayed the weekend over there — we got to stay in a hotel and stuff with all my teammates — and I feel like that moment was way better than the state tournament. The experience at states was great and all, but winning the regional and all was really fun.
As far as wrestling itself goes, what’s the most difficult aspect of the sport?
I would say finding what motivates you to keep going, because it’s a super hard sport. Every day, it kind of gets tougher, so figuring out what motivates you is an important thing.
Your senior night was last week. What was that like?
It was kind of tough because I didn’t get a match, but it felt like all four years fast-forwarded — it felt like the years flew by. But it was fun.
How has your senior season been for you?
It’s been different, of course, but we’ve made the best out of it — we’ve been able to go to a couple of tournaments, and we’ve practiced as much as we could.
Did you have any goals in mind coming into this final season?
My main goal for now is to wrestle in college, but of course I also want to win the state championship this year. I’ve been talking to a few wrestling coaches, and I’m hoping to stay in Florida.
The Observer has invested in new technology, so you can enjoy a more personalized online experience. By creating a user profile on OrangeObserver.com, you can manage settings, customize content, enter contests and more, all while continuing to enjoy all the local news you care about — Click Here it's FREE.