It isn’t often that high school students take a proactive approach and present an idea that is an immediate success.
But that is what happened at Burbank High last year when senior Narek Ghazaryan and a few of his friends came up with the idea of starting a wrestling program.
“I had to see who wanted to compete in the sport and I started the process last year. It has been ongoing ever since,” Ghazaryan said. “I was told the chances were slim of it happening. But because of the great people we had on the school board, we were able to push through and get wrestling as a sport.”
Fast forward this past summer as the school board approved the idea with the support of the Burbank athletic department.
Soon after, the Bulldogs hired coach Jonathon O’Brien, who spent the last four years coaching at Belmont High in Los Angeles.
“When you’re in a program that was started by the kids, you have positive momentum,” O’Brien said.
Ghazaryan said he had been wrestling for five years and has also participated in jujutsu, as have several others in the program.
Freshman Jayden Dela Rosa has competed in wrestling for two years and even considered going to a private school for it before changing his mind once he realized he could compete for the Bulldogs.
O’Brien said he has 46 kids in the program, which will be stretched across 14 weight divisions.
Seven girls are amongst those competing.
“(They) accumulated about 51 signatures. The athletic directors at Burbank then presented that to the district for a proposal to officially recognize Burbank wrestling. It got approved in the early summer of this past year,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien said in league competition the wrestlers will compete against their own gender. But some tournaments are coed.
The varsity team is large and is two or three wrestlers deep in most weight divisions.
At 106 pounds, sophomores Daniel Hambardzumyan and Nathan Hinojosa will both see time.
At 113 pounds the Bulldogs have Dela Rosa and senior Rhys Tutt.
Three are vying to compete at 120 pounds with juniors Arman Kaiwan and Mark Petrosyan as well as freshman David Tsaturyan.|
At 126 pounds, the Bulldogs have sophomore Arman Sarkisov and freshman Edward Malkhasyan.
At 132 pounds, senior Luis Mercado is the lone competitor.
Freshmen Logan Pinheiro and Tyler Ho are both looking to compete in the 138 pound division.
Sophomore Richard Kalajyan appears to be the competitor at 145 pounds.
The 152-pound division is where Burbank is deepest with seniors Kai Sebastian and David Danielian to go along with freshmen Gabriel Varliyan, Arnold Tarverdyan and Thomas Adzhemayan.
The 160-pound weight division features seniors Ghazaryan and Troy Cedeno.
At the 170-pound weight class, Burbank has sophomore Charbel Takli and freshman Ethan Toma.
The 182-pound division has senior Maxwell Higginbothom and sophomore Harut Perloshyan competing.
The 195-pound division is currently the only vacant position.
Junior Dylan Vo will be competing at the 220-pound level and sophomore Niko Hovhannisyan is the heavyweight at 285.
The Burbank girls’ team has junior Kendall Chapman at the 131-pound division.
Senior Irene Ambramyan will compete at the 150-pound division.
Sophomores Isabelle Ruiz and Heidi Palacios will both compete at the 170-pound class.
Junior Erin Sarkisian will be competing at 189 pounds.