By JENELYN RUSSO     3/4/2015
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When Trevor Perez started his freshman year at Mater Dei High School, he didn’t have any experience competing as a wrestler. With a background in jiu-jitsu and mixed martial arts, the Irvine resident approached his new sport with commitment and enthusiasm.

“I was in MMA (mixed martial arts) and that’s what prompted me to get into wrestling,” says Perez. “Coming into my freshman year, I did a [wrestling] camp in the summer and it gave me a good idea of what it would be like and it seemed like fun.”

Now a senior, Perez didn’t let his inexperience stop him from making an immediate and lasting impression on the sport at Mater Dei.

“We asked a lot of him as a freshman to wrestle varsity,” says the Monarchs head varsity wrestling coach, Luis Renteria. “For him to never have been a wrestler is unique. He picked it up pretty quick. He has more experience now and more confidence. The other kids look up to him.”

Perez admits that the sport has taught him patience, especially being the new kid on the mat. His dedication and commitment to working on his technique have produced positive results.

“There’s so much with this sport,” says Perez. “Every match is different. I couldn’t be the best my freshman year. It takes time to learn technique…Confidence is the key.”

Perez now has the opportunity to help bring along those who are new to the sport, just as he was four years ago.

“This year we have a lot of young wrestlers, but they’re really stepping up,” says Perez. “They’re a little inexperienced, but hopefully with time and patience, their technique will get better.”

After qualifying for the California state championships as a junior, Perez would like to close out his high school career with another state qualification and finish with a placement in the state tournament. He says it will be hard to leave not only his teammates, but also the entire high school wrestling community.

“What I’m going to miss the most is the tradition and the family I made here,” says Perez. “Not just with my team, but the whole Trinity League. We all push ourselves to do the best that we can.”

The 18-year-old is hoping his college years will involve both competing in wrestling and studying music. But he’s grateful for the commitment from his family, especially his father, in allowing him the chance to pursue the sport.

“Someone who inspires me is actually my dad,” says Perez. “He came from a different country (Colombia) without knowing much English at all. We were in sports he didn’t really know anything about, but he took us places to help further us in those sports. He always pushes us to do our best.”