Even though Bryce Mattson is currently the sixth-ranked wrestler in the 152-pound weight division in the Central Coast Section, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the San Benito High junior contend for league and section championships this season. Haybalers coach Steven Salcedo said Mattson has opened eyes around the section, impressing onlookers with his athleticism, improving technical skills and boldness to not back down from any challenge.
“I don’t know if Bryce has a ceiling in regards to what he can do,” Salcedo said after the team’s 54-12 loss to state powerhouse Gilroy on Dec. 14. “He looked really good before getting caught, but he’ll get better.”
Salcedo was referring to Mattson’s loss to Gilroy standout Nate Villarreal in the Dec. 14 dual match. The two were going back and forth in an exciting match before Villarreal caught Mattson and pinned him with 54 seconds left in the decisive third period. Even though Mattson got pinned, he was holding his own against Villarreal, who is the section’s second-ranked wrestler at 152 pounds.
“Versus Gilroy I think the biggest thing there was I got a little tired and little fatigued,” he said. “I think my mind was a little worked up, so maybe I needed to cool down. Maybe I wasn’t as relaxed because of my conditioning early in the season. But I’ll have a lot more gas at the end of the season.”
Mattson said he feels confident if a match goes the distance, his conditioning would allow him to shoot with confidence.
“My conditioning is really good right now,” he said. “Coach has been pushing it, and I feel like I don’t fatigue a lot.”
Mattson is the son of former Balers standout Matt Mattson, who was a two-time league champion and a third-place finisher at 165 pounds in the 1990 CCS Championships. Randy Logue, who is the public address announcer for the wrestling matches, said in the Gilroy match that, “Bryce wrestles just like his dad.”
Bryce credits his dad for not forcing the sport on him; rather, Bryce chose the sport because he loved it. Bryce takes to coaching well, whether it’s from his dad or Salcedo.
“I’m coachable and that’s a strength for an athlete,” Bryce said. “You have to listen tot the coach, trust him and take it from there.”
Mattson was born in Modesto but lived in Colorado until last August, when his dad—who is a supervisor for US Foods—earned a job transfer to the area. The timing wasn’t the best, as Mattson moved a week before the start of the 2016-2017 school year. However, Mattson has made a nice transition, both on and off the mat.
“It was pretty hard at first, but I have a lot of family out here,” he said. “With wrestling, the competition is pretty similar in Colorado. But over here there are so many more wrestlers, so it sparks competition.”
Mattson took first in the Watsonville Apple Cider Tournament, but the highlight of his season was finishing sixth in the ultra-competitive California Coast Classic.
“That was great competition, and I felt like I really earned that place,” he said.
Going forward, Mattson said he needs to set up shots better and work on being more effective from the neutral position. Bryce has watched tape of Matt when the elder Mattson competed in high school.
“The stands were packed,” Bryce said.
Now it’s Matt who gets to watch his son put on a show, an act that both hopes will end up with a CCS Championships podium finish.