June 19, 2024

In practice, Matt Hickman, junior public relations major, wrestles against Arsen Aleksanyan, assistant wrestling coach. The practice was the last held before the team went to two away games, where Hickman won both of his matches. Betsy Castellanos | Banner

For some athletes, playing a sport revolves around having a long-term goal for success, one goal set for the end of the season that pushes them every day. However, some find that day-by-day goals can teach more valuable lessons than simply shooting for the highest mark at the end of a season.

Matt Hickman, junior public relations major and a wrestler at California Baptist University in the 149-pound weight class, is a prime example of a competitor who has taken his journey one step at a time.

Coming to CBU as a transfer student, Hickman spent time at Fresno City College for two years and was named California Junior College State Champion as a freshman. When he arrived at CBU, Hickman had to take some time before he was cleared to compete.

Lennie Zalesky, head coach of the wrestling team, said Hickman has proven himself as a capable and determined athlete in the short amount of time he has been a Lancer, and he has been a great wrestler to work with.

“He’s a great competitor. If he has to wrestle a tough guy, he usually steps it up,” Zalesky said.

Enduring one of the longest seasons of any sport, wrestlers have to be on top of their training regiments if they want to improve and compete. But the long season can sometimes cause them to look more toward the end rather than focusing on what they can learn and benefit from each day.

Hickman said this can be an uphill battle for him.

“I try to tell myself every day to just go to practice and work hard, and then do 30 or 40 minutes of cardio every night. I tell myself if I do that, everything will work out,” he said. “I have to make sure no one else is working harder than me.”

Keeping in mind how much he wants to be a successful wrestler, Hickman stays dedicated to working himself as hard as he can.

“It’s pure discipline,” Zalesky said. “He really uses his discipline to make himself effective at the weight he is at.”

Being 18-1 on the mat and improving with each tournament, Hickman’s coaches said they rarely have to encourage him. Rather, they allow his success on the mat to spur him to improving.

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