Defending National Collegiate Boxing Champion Josue Gaytan, along with five other members of the Nevada Boxing Team, will return to the National Collegiate Boxing Championships this month.
The Nevada Boxing Team, a club sport at the University of Nevada, Reno, attended the Western Regional Boxing Championships at the Eldorado Hotel and Casino March 21-23 that led six members to move on to nationals. Gaytan, Caleb Trotter, Jarred Santos, Zach Barbara, Nick Anderson and JJ Mariano will be attending the Championships April 4-6 at the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut.
Both first and second place winners advanced to the nationals, and Santos was crowned regional champion in his weight class. Nevada held out Trotter and Gaytan so the boxers wouldn't risk further injury. Mariano, Barbara and Anderson lost close decisions in final bouts, but were still able to advance to nationals.
This year's team is young, with only one senior, but makes up for it with a great amount of skill. Gaytan, who has been boxing on and off since he was 11, rededicated himself to the sport two years ago after watching his past training partner win the 125-pound title in 2011. Gaytan began training with the Nevada Boxing Team that summer with one goal in sight: to become a national champion. And this year, he has the opportunity to do it for a second time.
Trotter started training for the first time with the team this last fall, after the team president and Trotter's roommate, Cordarius Taylor, suggested he give boxing a try. After less than a year of training, he is on his way to nationals, with the help of Nevada Boxing Team head coach Mike Martino.
"My coaching and coordinating style is to motivate the athletes to do the best they can," Martino said. "Winning not only takes so much skill, but so much want. It can be difficult for individuals who are boxing two nights in a row, which is why it is so amazing to have someone like Josue who won nationals last year."
Each year, the Western Regional Championships are usually held in Reno and Coach Martino said he would enjoy seeing next year's team host the national championships here as well.
"The team we have gives us the motivation to host the national championships next year," Martino said. "We have such a young team that is very capable of making it to nationals next year and we would love to be the host. Reno deserves to see the quality of boxing that our team presents."
For now, Coach Martino and the six men at nationals will focus on this year's fight and will continue to train in the hopes of a second consecutive championship win.