Jonathan Gurule successful in Greco-Roman wrestling

Los Lunas High School graduate Jonathan Gurule has not only won a national wrestling title, but is on his way to represent Team USA at the Junior World Championships in Bulgaria.

Earlier this month, Gurule, 19, won his best-of-three finals at the 2022 World Team Trials in Iowa, earning the 2022 United States Greco-Roman 55K championship. With this win, Gurule was named to the U.S. U20 World Team, and will compete at the Junior World Championships (U20) from Aug. 15-21 in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Gurule, who graduated LLHS in 2021, is now a freshman at Northern Michigan University and trains at the Northern Michigan University National Training Site. He’s the son of Angela Hernandez and Billy Gurule.

Wrestling at 55 kilograms (121.3 pounds), Gurule says he’s excited to be able to compete in the world championships — one of many goals he has as a wrestler.

Photo courtesy Sam Janicki
Greco-Roman wrestler Jonathan Gurule, a Los Lunas native, celebrates after a win during
USA Wrestling’s Under-20 World Team Trials held in Geneva, Iowa, earlier this month.

Gurule started his wrestling career in eighth grade, and placed third in the 106 weight division at state during his freshman year of high school. The Los Lunas native left New Mexico during his sophomore year to train in freestyle and Roman-Greco wrestling in Colorado.

“I was there for a year, but that didn’t work out because it wasn’t the right environment,” Gurule said. “I came home, and during my junior year, I won state (at the 113 weight). During my senior year, I took second at 126.”

“I started at an early age when my dad put me in it,” Gurule says of wrestling. “When I was younger, I played (YAFL) football, but I was the smaller guy, and liked wrestling a little more.”

It was during his freshman year of high school that Gurule started getting serious about wrestling, saying he fell in love with the sport.

“I just like that it’s up to you,” he said. “It’s a very hard sport because you have to cut weight … but I’m super competitive, and I have to compete with myself. I also like the combat and fighting aspect of it.”

Throughout high school, Gurule wasn’t only wrestling for the Tigers, but was involved in club wrestling that would allow him to travel all over the United States and out of the country.

“When I was going out of the country to train or to tournaments, a lot of my friends who I grew up with would support me,” he said.

Photo courtesy Sam Janicki
Jonathan Gurule was able to out-wrestle favorite Jakason Burks at the 2022 World Team Trials in Iowa earlier this month.

After graduating high school last year, he left his home state and is attending college at NMU, where he’s majoring in financial management. While he’s not wrestling for the school, he trains at the Northern Michigan University National Training Site.

The NMU-NTS offers training opportunities to 18-24 year old Greco-Roman wrestlers who have the potential to win World and Olympic medals for the United States. The program is designed to train these young wrestlers in an intense training environment, with an expert Greco-Roman coach.

“It’s going amazing,” Gurule said of his training. “The older athletes are a big inspiration, and the coach, Andy Bisek, is really good.”

While his main priority while in college is to get good grades, his other goals are making the USA World Team and winning a junior world medal, and making the 2024 Olympic team.

“I think I have a good chance of making that team,” he said.

Photo courtesy Sam Janicki
U20 World Team coach Derrick Waldroup, right, presents Jonathan Gurule with his national title plaque. Waldroup competed in the men’s Greco-Roman 90 kg at the 1996 Summer Olympics.

Gurule was able to make the U20 World Team when he outscored his opponents 21-5 in his first three matches to reach the finals against Jakason Burks in Iowa on June 3. Gurule took a 1-0 lead in their first bout before the Los Lunas native scored back-to-back 4-point lifts for a 9-0 technical fall win.

The second bout also started out close as Gurule and Burks were tied 1-1 after the second period. Gurule scored another 4-point move for a 5-1 win and the match victory.

“It didn’t hit me at first,” Gurule said of his win. “I was having mixed emotions at first. I expected to feel a little different.

“Obviously, it felt really good to accomplish a dream I’ve had for a long time, but I was kind of mad at myself for my performance. I thought I could do better, and the job still isn’t finished — I still have worlds.

“I’m super excited to represent my country — the United States is the best country in the world,” Gurule said. “It’s even cooler that I get to represent my state and friends and family from here.”

As Gurule prepares for the upcoming Junior World Championships, he is refocusing on what he has to do, reviewing film of himself wrestling and making sure is in the best physical and mental shape he can.

“I have a lot of things to do,” he said. “I’m confident in the environment that I have and the skill set to do good at worlds.”

But during a two-week visit home to Los Lunas earlier this month, Gurule enjoyed visiting family and friends, eating traditional New Mexican food, including one of the delicacies he’s missed most while living in Michigan — red and green chile.

As a freshman, Gurule still has three more years to compete, and will move up to USA U23 Senior Team now that he will turn 20 in August.

“I think the pressure is good,” Gurule said of the work it takes to accomplish his dreams. “It makes me work harder and stay on my game.”

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Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.