If you don’t know Sako Gekchyan, let me tell you. He’s a senior at Costa Mesa High School. He has two younger brothers, John and Greg, who also attend CMHS. He’s on the Wrestling team, oh, and he’s legally blind.
Sako’s family comes from the edge of Costa Mesa and Santa Ana. Although he was born in LA (North Hollywood/Glendale), he still considers himself a LA kid at heart. Sako lost his vision during his first year of life due to a bone condition that affected the back of his head and damaged his eyes.
He decided to go out for the school wrestling team during his freshman year, but soon after joining he realized that season had just ended. He dropped the sport after only being in it for a month, only to realize that there was an off season. The following year he continued with the sport and he’s stuck with it his four years of high school.
Who inspired you to join wrestling?
Well it’s actually a pretty funny story. You see, It all started when I saw this Disney movie about a blind wrestler. I know it sounds kind of up-scene, but after watching it I told myself, “Well if he can do it, why can’t I?” This really motivated me to try it out, besides I looked into other sports and saw no real way of be having a good chance at them (out of my league). There’s a lot of contact in wrestling, so I figured this would make the sport a whole lot easier for me.
Who helps you the most while you’re practicing?
Well, no one helps me in particular; but when I am having trouble with anything I talk to my coach and he really helps out. He listens and really tries to make things clear for me so I can understand.
When someone practices sparring with you, do you get mad if they go easy on you?
Yeah, I mean if I’m not having a good day or didn’t get much sleep the night before; I let them know before hand and ask them to be lenient. Otherwise if I feel good (most of the time), I expect them to treat me like any other wrestler in the room. I fell ready and I’m ready to go hard and hope they do the same.
What is the biggest challenge that you face when it comes to a wrestling match?
Reaction time. The other person might be faster and have better agility. All in all I would have to say that my reaction time is probably what kills me at times, but I’ve been working hard and it’s been improving.
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When was your first win?
My first win was during my first varsity tournament. I can’t quite remember against what school, all I remember was that it was my junior year and it was great!
How do you feel after a match (win or loss)?
Well when I win, I feel great! I feel accomplished and relieved; it feels good to know that all that hard work and dedication finally paid off. If it’s a loss, it doesn’t feel so good. I’ll tell you this, sometimes I get so frustrated that I storm out of the gym and slam the doors. Although I am mad at that moment, I don’t let it stop me. I use it to my advantage. I use it as fuel for my next match. I gather up all that frustration and power and input it into my next match.
How do you feel about having your brothers in wrestling and following your steps?
It feels great, man; I’m the one who got them into it. They’re pretty good too! They have some wins and are stacking up their stats sheet. I’m very proud of them.
Do you intend on doing wrestling throughout college?
Yes, I mean I plan on going to OCC and although I don’t think they offer much help; I also intend on taking classes at Santa Ana College (SAC). SAC has a great program and I’d like to join their team and give it my all.
Written by Jose Palacios
Photos by Raymond Andrade