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The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

SFSU wrestlers turn their losses into lessons

Two wrestlers plan to use their experience at the national championship tournament as fuel for next season
Dan Hernandez
Kyle Botelho (left) and Basil Othman (right) of the SFSU men’s wrestling team take a breath after wrestling against each other during practice in the Gymnasium on March 11, 2024. (Dan Hernandez / Golden Gate Xpress)

Two San Francisco State University wrestlers were the only California representatives to hit the mats on March 15 at Hartman Arena in Wichita, Kansas, as they debuted in the NCAA Division II National Championships.

This marked the first time multiple Gators, Basil Othman and Kyle Botelho, were able to qualify for the national tournament since 2019.

Othman, who competed at 157 pounds and Botelho, at 165, fell short of their goal of becoming national champions. However, both wrestlers acknowledged that only a few athletes have the opportunity to showcase their abilities on such a grand stage.

“No sunshine without rain,” Othman said. “Through the ups and downs, you really have to just look back on it and just appreciate it, ‘like, damn, we really like out here.’ This is all about growth and as long as we’re growing, we’re winning.”

Jason Welch, men’s wrestling head coach, pointed out the consistent progress he saw from his team as the season developed and believes their level of comfortability grew with each match.

“With that big first when they built more confidence over the year, and that just really paid dividends,” Welch said.

Botelho proudly reflected on the season he put together, emphasizing how his love for the sport goes beyond a win-loss record. His father, Eric Botelho, also wrestled at SFSU.

“Outcomes aren’t everything,” Botelho said. “Just because we went 0-2, it doesn’t mean we’re bad wrestlers. That just means that day we didn’t perform like we wanted to. Not really caring what the outcome is, just enjoying the process — and I wrestle because I fully enjoy the grind aspect of it and what it teaches you.”

Kyle Botelho (left) and Basil Othman (right) of the SFSU men’s wrestling team pose together in the Gymnasium during practice on March 11, 2024. (Dan Hernandez / Golden Gate Xpress) (Dan Hernandez)

This selfless and zen-like mindset is what Welch desires for all of his wrestlers.

“[They’re] developing into a group of young men who are comfortable being uncomfortable,” Welch said. “Comfortable in the deep end, when they’re exhausted, not only do they believe that they’re in good enough shape, but they actually enjoy the feeling and they enjoy that pain. I believe that’s the thing that I’m most proud of.”

It was a learning experience for both wrestlers.

Rather than listing regrets, Othman is eager to work on the small adjustments he plans to make in his game to reach the next level, such as exploring new ways to be aggressive and keep his opponents off balance.

Although his Wichita experience was bittersweet, Botelho plans to use it as a foundation for next season.

“Job’s never done,” Botelho said. “I’m enjoying the moment, I got a couple more years of eligibility left so I’m going to use it to the fullest extent. Keep continuously getting better, keep perfecting my craft and trying to make a legacy for myself. Make it known that I was wrestling here and I made some kind of impact.”

Othman looks forward to laying the groundwork required for another successful season. He referenced a bamboo tree as a metaphor: during the initial five years of nurturing, there’s no visible growth above the ground. However, once the tree establishes its root system, it can shoot up nearly 80 feet tall within six weeks.

“Just understanding that, with this upcoming season, we might not see growth immediately,” Othman said. “There’s gonna be times when we fall and there’s gonna be times when we come up. But understanding that growth is happening, even though you can’t see it, I think is a big thing — and being faithful to the process, faith is the belief in something you can’t see, so just believing and buying in.”

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About the Contributors
Victor Harris Jr
Victor Harris Jr, Podcast Editor
Victor Harris Jr (he/him) is a reporter for Golden Gate Xpress. Raised in Fairfield, California, he is a transfer student from Solano Community College, majoring in Journalism with a minor in Management. During his free time, you can find him watching sports, bowling, gaming, or working on his sports podcast, More Trophies.
Dan Hernandez
Dan Hernandez, Visuals Editor
Dan Hernandez (he/him) is the Visuals Editor for Golden Gate Xpress, majoring in journalism and minoring in business administration. He is an award-winning multimedia journalist, applying his skills in both news reporting and press photography. He got his start in journalism at 15 years old as a staff writer for The Advocate at Contra Costa College before becoming editor-in-chief as a high school senior. Outside of journalism, he is probably camping on a road trip, playing water polo, riding his bike or dancing at concerts. He also goes by the nickname “Biscuit.”

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