Lake Highlands wrestling coach Pete Grieder calls his team “the gorilla squad.”

But comparing 119-pound senior state qualifier Chung Choi to a gorilla is a stretch. Choi is 5-feet, 8-inches tall, soft-spoken and loves playing basketball.

He also has learned, since he started wrestling, how to beat stronger opponents.

“As a sophomore, he had never wrestled before,” Grieder says. “But he was very agile and had the ability to pick it up quickly.”

“When I first came, the coach didn’t think much of me,” Choi says. “I was the smallest and weakest guy on the team. I’m still one of the smallest.”

Two years later, Choi is a team captain and is on course to go to the state meet a second time.

As a sophomore, Grieder says Choi compiled a 17-16 record and took third in the regional meet. Last season, he improved to 20-9, won the regional championship and wrestled at state and came one match short of placing in the 112-pound division.

“Chung has moved up to the 119-pound class and has beaten a lot of good wrestlers this year,” Grieder says.

“His main asset is the ability to go the full six minutes. Technique is the thing that wins, not strength. He’s beaten wrestlers much stronger than he, with technique, balance and that stamina. He’s learned that you don’t use all your strength and wind in the first period.”

“I just don’t want to lose,” Choi says. “I’m a little bigger this year, big enough for the 119-pound class. I like that one-on-one competition.”

Choi also excels in the classroom with a 93.5 grade-point average, which has him in the National Honor Society and applying to Cornell.

Born in Seoul, South Korea, Choi came to the United States at age 7. He plays basketball in community leagues and in volleyball tournaments. He wrestles during the school season.

“My goal this year is to go to state and place as high as I can,” Choi says.

Grieder’s ‘gorillas” are considered to be plenty good enough. They were ranked 10th among the area’s 45 high school teams by area coaches in the Dallas Morning News preseason preview.

The gorillas will wrestle in their den Jan. 11 (vs. Euless Trinity), Jan. 18 (vs. Plano East), Jan. 25 (vs. Irving MacArthur) and Feb. 1 (vs. Arlington) and will play to the regional meet Feb. 12.

The Texas State Championships in Abilene will be held Feb. 17. It’s on Chung Choi’s calendar.

LH Boys Gear Up For Soccer Season

The Lake Highlands High School boys soccer team will play its first scrimmage Jan. 7, and coach Frank Gidwani has high hopes for another trip to the playoffs.

Coming back are midfielders Alan Gearing, Jett Johnson, Paul Broome and Spencer Moorhead, fullback Brad Grundy, forward Jonathan Waters, and Paul Reagan and Rene Gonzales. The roster has one move-in, Hector Garcia, from Mexico. Seniors, Geoff Camp and Jeff Massey, will compete for starting goalkeeper.

Gidwani says his team should be ranked as high as it was last year. It’s a seasoned bunch with top-level club soccer experience.