The Obregons are a wrestling family.
So when then-high school sophomore Gino Obregon competed in the 2012 Class 4A regionals — with a chance to advance to the state tournament — it was no surprise that his father, Brooklyn Obregon, was on the mat with him.
The surprising part is that the elder Obregon, who was in his first year as the head wrestling coach at Cascade High School, was in the opposite corner from his son, who attended Snohomish at the time.
“When I was hired as the Cascade coach, I thought it may happen because I knew I had a young man that was pretty competitive around the same weight,” Brooklyn said. “I thought it may occur, but you just hope that it doesn’t.”
Gino wrestled well that Saturday, but not well enough to reach the regional final in the 113-pound class. Instead, he ended up in the third-place bout against Cascade’s Jorge Escobedo.
“It was hard because Jorge was/is one of my good friends,” Gino said. “But all’s fair in love and war, so I just, you know … I didn’t want to give it to him. I had to work hard for that win. My desire and my goal was to go to state, so I had to beat him to go to state.
“So, I beat him.”
It was a hard-fought match that ended with a third-period pin.
“It was a very weird feeling,” said Brooklyn, who has coached both Gino and Gino’s sister in wrestling and soccer for most of their lives.
“It was a very numb feeling. You want to be happy for your son and you want to console your own wrestler. I shook (Gino’s) hand, I was happy for him, but then I had to actually turn and try to nurture or try to console my own wrestler. It’s very difficult in a circumstance like that.”
A week later, Gino validated his regional victory by placing third at Mat Classic, the top individual finish by a Snohomish wrestler in 2012.
But Gino never wanted to wrestle opposite his father again.
At the time of Gino’s birth, the Obregons lived in Lake Stevens. Seven years ago, they moved to a house on the other side of the lake, thinking they were still within the boundaries of Lake Stevens High School and that Gino would be a part of the Vikings’ wrestling dynasty under coach Brent Barnes. At the time, Brooklyn was a youth coach in Lake Stevens.
When the Obregons went to register Gino for high school, the Lake Stevens registrar informed them “you don’t live inside of our district.”
“It was a surprise to all of us,” Brooklyn said.
Instead Gino enrolled at Snohomish, where he wrestled for Rob Zabel.
“He fit in well with the team and wrestled well for us,” Zabel said,
But after his sophomore year, Gino said, something didn’t feel right. He had wrestled during the summers at USA Everett, where Brooklyn is a coach, and made friends there. Most of them went to Cascade.
“He just really wanted to wrestle with us,” Brooklyn said.
So the family sold its home in Lake Stevens and moved to Everett so father and son would never again have to stare across the mat at each other.
“My dad really brings out my potential,” Gino said. “He knows how to coach me. He knows me, you know?”
It’s been tough to argue with the results so far this season. Gino, who competes at 126 pounds, is ranked second in the state in Class 4A by the Washington Wrestling Report. He has lost just two matches after jumping up two weight classes.
That said, it was tough for him to leave Snohomish and his Panther teammates.
“I just told them that I really wanted to wrestle for my dad,” Gino said. “I just told them I’d miss them, you know, but I could do better if I wrestled for my dad.”
Doing better has included improvement in his school work, which is important if Gino is going to achieve his dream of wrestling in college.
Wrestling had been Gino’s top priority — until this year, when he came to realization that achievement in the classroom comes before achievement on the mat.
“I’m taking it more seriously,” he said.