By Ed Martin, Editor
Lemoore High School wrestling standout Jesse Gayton signed a letter-of-intent on Monday to wrestle next year for Menlo College.
Lemoore High School wrestling standout Jesse Gayton signed a letter-of-intent on Monday to wrestle next year for Menlo College.

Normally, when one of Lemoore High School’s top athletes signs his or her letter-of-intent to play college sports, the signing ceremony – typically held in the high school’s event center – includes friends, teammates, family, coaches, and often, the athlete’s new college coach.

But this time, the signing ceremony was a bit more subdued but no less enthusiastic. Because the school’s not in session due to COVID-19, Jesse Gayton, a standout Tiger wrestler for the past four years, was forced to the sanctity of his home where friends watched via the Zoom teleconferencing app, as the talented young wrestler signed his letter-of-intent to wrestle for Menlo College, a San Francisco Bay Area school.

Despite the social distancing, mom Jessica and dad, Albert, were on hand to watch their son sign his letter. He also has a brother and five sisters in the family, all of whom were no doubt impressed by their sibling.

What makes Gayton impressive is that he didn’t even start his wrestling career until high school. He initially used the sport to prepare for football. “I thought it would make me a better football player,” he said. “I actually started wrestling in high school, and I ended up loving wrestling.”

He loved it so much the young wrestler ended up in the California State Wrestling Championships the last two years. Just this past year he was undefeated in the West Yosemite League as he helped his team to another league championship. He was perfect last year and wrestled to a 23-4 record over his stellar high school career.

“Jesse Gayton is one of the most hard-working dedicated guys that we’ve ever had come through our program,” said his head coach for the past four years, Marcio Botelho. “Jesse was a leader on the wrestling mat and the classroom, and he led by example. I’m so proud of Jesse and everything that he’s accomplished in the sport. I’m so happy to see him continue his wrestling career at Menlo College.”

This past season he wrestled at 120 pounds and for the second year in a row earned a spot in the state championships in Bakersfield where he managed to finish in the top 16. “I was always close but no cigars,” he said.

At Menlo College, he’ll wrestle for Coach Joey Martinez. “I have talked with him over the phone. I think we have the same mindset and the same goals,” said Gayton.” Gayton’s goal as he prepares for college is to earn a degree in sports management and eventually become an athletic director.


Lemoore High School's Jesse Gayton, a talented Tiger wrestler, practices 'social distancing' as he signs college wrestling letter-of-intent