David Jr. continues family’s wrestling legacy

For over 40 years, wrestling has been a huge part of the Maldonado tradition. Fast-forward to 2023, Senior David Maldonado Jr. is ranked fourth in state at 132 pounds and trying to reach yet another state appearance.

David started wrestling at a young age with his dad as his coach, and has been working hard ever since.

“My dad got me into wrestling. It was a family sport and I owe all my success to my family and support group,” he said. 

Being part of such a successful wrestling family can cause a bit of pressure at times.

 “There is a bit of pressure that comes with being part of a family legacy, but I know that no matter what my family always has my back at the end of the day,” Maldonado Jr. said.

This weekend, David will be returning to the state competition with four of his teammates: Seniors Lucas Clement and Nasir Christion, Junior Cameron Crisp, and Sophomore Adrian Pellot. 

David has worked hard to become a role model and a great leader for his teammates.

“I try to push my teammates every day to be the best they can be. To push past their limits every day and show them just how strong and capable they really are,” David said.    

The friendships and bonds he’s made through wrestling make the experience so much more enjoyable.

“The relationships I’ve made through wrestling are the strongest

I’ve ever made,” he said. “There’s just something about going through such a tough sport that makes your teammates feel like your brothers. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my team, and I know they always have my back.”

When it’s time to wrestle, Maldonado Jr. means business as he always has a locked-in mindset during his matches.

 “The feeling is the same for pretty much every match,just going out there and competing while trying to make my family proud,” David said.

 He also loves to be able to learn from his father. 

“Many people compete for glory or for fame, but nothing means more to me than looking over in my corner and seeing my dad,” David said.

 Coach Maldonaldo also loves having the opportunity to be able to work with his son.

“I find it pretty awesome to be able to coach my son and see him grow as a student athlete and a person,” he said.

Even with all the success David has had over the years, he admits wrestling still has its challenges.

“The hardest thing about wrestling is trying to balance everything out while going through such a grueling season,” he said.

Although wrestling is such a physical sport it takes an effect on athletes mentally. 

“Wrestling is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do,it pushes me to new limits every day,” David said, “and it gives me a sense of confidence that I know I can get through anything.”

The commitment of getting better every day is one of the hardest things to do.

“It’s sometimes hard to keep your composure when you really just feel like sleeping or taking a day off,” he said.

The tough conditions of being a wrestler has helped David build a better mindset.

“Sometimes it’s hard to push through the work, but that’s where I get my resilience from,” he said.

Coach Maldonado believes it’s bigger than wrestling and wants to impact Merrillville in a positive way.

“I’ve worked pretty hard at trying to make Merrillville High School a better place,” he said. “I believe through wrestling I’ve done my best at helping our youngmen, and now this year our young women, become better student athletes. It’s not just about leaving a legacy for the wrestling program, but I want to leave this place better than it was before I got here.” 

Coach Maldonaldo has seen his son make huge strides in improving as an athlete and as a person.

“I believe he’s improved over the years in his maturity and willingness to be better,” he said. “His work ethic has also helped him tremendously.”