By John Philip Wyllie
Hilltop High School developed in recent decades into a wrestling power under the guidance of long-time head coach Tim Tyler. When Tyler stepped down before last season, he passed the torch to someone that was part of that winning tradition, Thomas Juarez. Juarez has kept Hilltop’s winning tradition alive. He heads into this season excited about his matching pair of top-notch wrestlers, twins Michael and Matthew Reyes.
“I think the Reyes brothers, Mike and Matt are by far the most dedicated kids in our wrestling program. Mike is a little bit more aggressive and Matt is a little more technical, but their hard work allowed them to persevere (last year) in the matches that were necessary to qualify for tournaments such as the Masters and CIF. I think both of them are going to be terrors. Within their weight classes in San Diego they are going to be the dark horses that will upset a lot of kids throughout the year. Michael will wrestle this year at 119 lbs. and Matthew will wrestle at 125. I expect some really good things from both of them,” Juarez added.
The Reyes brothers began wrestling at the insistence of their father during their freshman year. They were reluctant at first, but soon came to appreciate what might be the most demanding high school sport. Still only juniors, they have this season and next to make their mark and they fully intend to do so.
As sophomore a year ago Mike finished second in the South Bay League and fourth in the Metro Conference at 119.
“This year my goal is to win league at 119, finish in the top three in CIF, in the top five in Masters and qualify for the state tournament,” Mike said.
He knows that attaining those goals will require an intense commitment, but it is something that he is ready to do.
“I like working hard and getting that sweat going. Raising your hand (in victory) at the end of the match makes it all worth it. My goal is to push myself hard and take this as far as I can go. I want to also do well academically so that I can get some colleges to look at me.”
Mike enjoys the advantage of the built-in competition that his brother Matt supplies. They compete both on the mats and in the classroom, but through it all they have managed to remain close.
“Having Mike to wrestle is an advantage because it provides me a constant work-out at home,” Matt said. “We run together and motivate each other. It might be a slight disadvantage for me because I am a little heavier. So, I would also like to work out with somebody that is heavier than I am. It is very competitive between us. We are always trying to push each other harder in order to qualify for things like the Masters or state. We don’t usually get too angry at each other. When we do, it usually starts when we get kneed or elbowed accidentally. Then our blood will start to boil and maybe we’ll hack each other a little bit.”
Being that they wrestle at different weights they can root for each other when they are competing against outside competition. Their parents are solidly behind both of them.
“Our parents are very supportive,” Matt confirms. “For this year’s fundraiser they pretty much did all of the work. It’s great to have that kind of support.”
While wrestling is considered an individual sport, it also has a team element. A strong feeling of unity and camaraderie exists within the Lancers squad. Matt believes this team could go far.
“Our team looks really good. If we can get everybody to cut down to their (optimal) weight class I think we have a shot at winning in CIF this year.”