Donavan Lozada brings home the title

7/19/2017 | Chris Miracle

Category: July

Wrestler Donavan Lozada won a national championship.
Reminder Publications submitted photo

Self-determination knows no boundaries for one local wrestler.

Just days after earning his associate’s degree, representing Springfield Technical Community College, Donavan Lozada went to work on the mats to come away with a national title in Greco-Roman wrestling.

After help from his girlfriend and working two jobs to earn the travel money, Lozada ventured to Texas, and competed in a national championship, taking first place in his weight class.

“Texas is a very beautiful place and the moment of winning the championship was very exciting,” Lozada said. “The competition was tough and fast-paced. My opponents knew what they were doing. Overall I was focused but I also made sure to have fun and enjoy the experience.”

The lone wrestler representing STCC, Lozada squared off in the first-ever GoGreco College Nationals, a competition sponsored by the National Collegiate Wrestling Association. He took the top spot in the 130kg weight class at the June 3 competition hosted by Richland College. The competition featured eight weight classes competing in Greco-Roman style wrestling.

Greco-Roman style wrestling is used in Olympic competition. Unlike freestyle wrestling, Greco-Roman style does not allow holds below the waist.

In addition to being named a national champion, Lozada was awarded All-American honors.

Lozada gave credit to his coaches, Alberto Nieves, Asnage Castelly and Anibal Nieves for preparing him for the competition.

“I couldn’t have done it without my coaches,” Lozada said. “Alberto, even thought he was not there, was motivating with text messages to take each match step by step.”

Other colleges represented at the championship in Dallas were: North Texas, Richland College, University of Southern California, University of California, Los Angeles, Texas State, Houston and Grays Harbor College in Washington.

Lozada won his first match 8-0 (technical fall, or outscoring his opponent by a specified number of points), second, 4-0 (pin) and final, 6-2 (pin). While Lozada took first place in his weight class, STCC overall tied for fifth place.

“The final match I was cautious because I over pursued my opponent two times and I was penalized for using my leg, giving him four points. I just kept wrestling and tried a similar move to bring him down,” Lozada said.

He went on to describe his wrestling strategy that has led to great milestones thus far.

“I would say that I am more passive aggressive and try to keep going forward and always try to counter my opponent’s moves,” Lozada said.

Lozada, who works at the STCC Fitness Center and at Six Flags in Agawam, paid for the trip to Dallas out of his own pocket with expenses totaling almost $800.00.

“It was worth it to be able to bring a title in – not just for myself, but to motivate the rest of the guys here on the wrestling team,” Lozada said. “I want to show that STCC is capable of having champions, no matter what style or where we compete.”

Coach Alberto Nieves said he believes STCC would have placed higher if more wrestlers from the college competed because they would have boosted the cumulative score.

Lozada plans to be part of the team through next season. While he earned a degree in criminal justice from STCC in May, he will return to STCC and pursue a degree in general studies.

Passionate about wrestling since he started competing as a sophomore at Chicopee High School, Lozada dreams of becoming an Olympic athlete and representing Puerto Rico, where his family has roots.

“I love the sport of wrestling. I want to go to the Olympics to wrestle for Puerto Rico and represent where we come from,” Lozada said. “I started from nowhere to get to this. At first even my family was doubtful, but now they are very proud. This win has made me more motivated to train and keep my technique sharp.”

“I am very passionate about wrestling. It is two people from two different backgrounds putting their bodies through so much stress. You see which wrestler has more will power. To come out of that is a great feeling,” Lozada added.

Nieves said he’s proud of Lozada for his determination and hard work – both in the classroom and on the wrestling mat.

“His desire has always been to be a champion,” Nieves said. “I think highly of him. He went down there on his own to represent the college, and he came back a champion.”

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