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  • Val T.

Before Manchester dual, Rochester wrestlers say farewell to Orduño


Sports Editor, RTC

NORTH MANCHESTER — On a most difficult day for the Rochester wrestling team, they went about their business while trying to process their grief.

They are still working through everything, both on and off the mat.

As for the on-the-mat part, they won their season opening dual meet over host Manchester 49-21 Friday.

Before that all happened, the team attended the viewing of Carlos Orduño at the Good Family Funeral Home in Rochester.

A 2023 Rochester grad, Orduño was killed in a single-vehicle accident at the intersection of East Rochester and Slaybaugh Street in Akron on Nov. 10. He was 18.

Orduño was the reigning Three Rivers Conference heavyweight champion, and he later advanced to semistate.

Marco Orduño, Carlos’ younger brother, is a freshman wrestler at Rochester.

Orduño’s viewing at the funeral home began at 4 p.m. Rochester coach Clint Gard was thankful that the funeral home let the team come through and attend before heading off to Manchester for the 6:30 p.m. start to the dual meet.

“We went over as a team and saw Mom, saw Dad,” Gard said. “Jeri Good did a great job of trying to get us through the back door and letting us come through to have our time with the family. And we saw Marco. I got to see all three of his sisters that I had in class. Evelin (Carlos’ older sister) actually wrestled for me years ago. So I got to give them hugs. I saw Mel Hisey (Carlos’ girlfriend and a 2023 Rochester grad), and got to give her a hug and talk with her a little bit.”

After graduation, Orduño took a job at Pike Lumber, and he was also helping as an assistant wrestling coach at North Miami. A published obituary of Orduño referred to Gard as a “treasured mentor on life as well as the mats.”

The viewing brought back many of Orduño’s former Zebra teammates in addition to the current group of Zebras.

An anonymous private donor has paid for Orduño’s funeral expenses and headstone, according to a report in the Fulton County Post. Proceeds from a gofundme account that had been started before the private donations will now be donated to the wrestling team.

“You’ve seen the online stuff and how people feel,” Gard said. “A lot of people are affected by this.”

In addition to trying to cope with the tragedy, the team is also dealing with a stomach flu outbreak that forced Wyatt Davis and Declan Gard to stay home. In addition, injuries have wracked the JV team to the point that they decided not to send a team to the West Noble JV tournament Saturday.

And they also had to get the RHS gym ready for a girls wrestling invitational Saturday.

Gard said he has had difficulty coping with Orduño’s death. Following Jordan Shafer and Jordan Schultz, Orduño is the third wrestler that Gard coached who suffered an untimely death.

“It’s just hard, it’s just hard.” coach Gard said, repeating himself. “ I don’t know how to say it. This is the third wrestler that I’ve had that I’ve coached and been close with that has passed away. All three have been things that could be controlled and be prevented. It’s very surreal. It’s very hard to comprehend. I’m 50 years old, and it’s hard for me. His teammates and teenagers, a lot of them just don’t know how to deal with that.”

Brady Beck, who finished seventh in the state at 220 last year, has taken over for Orduño at heavyweight. He often faced off with Orduño at practice and would even watch video together to study opponents’ tendencies.

“Probably the biggest smile you’re ever going to see,” Beck said. “He’s a real upbeat person, never down on himself, never down on other people. He just loved to be around you, and you loved to be around him. As a wrestler, he’s stronger than anybody I’ve ever met. Super athletic for what he looked like. He was just fun to watch.”

Orduño will be buried at the Rochester IOOF Cemetery Saturday. But it’s clear that the grieving process is ongoing.

“I feel bad because I normally am able to post something on social media about my feelings and stuff, but I don’t know what to say at this point in time,” coach Gard said. “Like I told my wife, I’ve only got so many of these in me. I don’t know how many more I can do. You just work through it the best you can. I don’t think I’ve been a great support for our kids and for, just in general, our team and for the family. I felt I navigated Jordan’s (Shafer) pretty well (in 2015) and Jordan Schultz when he passed away (in 2019). I just haven’t done a good job with this one. This one’s been tough. I don’t know if it’s the accumulation of them all or what it is, but it’s been really difficult for me.”

Coach Gard then paused. He recalled coaching Orduño and watching him graduate in June. He said the kids have coped better than he has.

“You don’t think that it’s real,” he said.

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