The La Jolla High wrestling alum — a two-time CIF champ at 135 and 145 pounds who went on to star at Palomar College, finishing fifth and sixth in the state in his two years under Coach Cody Barrios — showed an experienced, confident hand in coaching the Windansea Warriors in the La Jolla youth program.
Now, he wants to hone that coaching expertise and “get some more academic background” for his business career as he enters Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska next month to pursue an advanced degree.
“It’s a 10-month contract each year. I’ll be responsible for helping with all things related to the Concordia wrestling program, preparing student athletes for matches and tournaments,” the 25-year-old said recently in an interview near his long-time offseason employment in the Village.
Donchev has kept up close relationships with Ryan Lennard and Kellen Delaney, his coaches at La Jolla High. He also touches base with former Viking teammates Harry Wilson and Steven Andrews.
On strategy, he coaches the aggressive approach that worked for him: “You’re up by a point (late in the match), what do you do? You should still be working your setups, still working your moves instead of reacting to your opponent’s moves.”
He explains, “It’s not a move. It’s more an approach. Referees are going to award points to the one initiating. Maybe a comparison to soccer would make it understandable: If you’re pressing the field and moving the ball, you’re more likely to score.” A defensive posture, “telling everyone to play defense and don’t let them score”, puts an athlete back on his heels, tentative, in danger of losing his advantage.
Peter went on from Palomar to wrestle his last two collegiate seasons at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee, where he was a team captain at 165 pounds. As a teammate, he was a mentor to younger wrestlers, the beginning of his transition to coaching.
“I’ve always encouraged my athletes on getting strong, eating right,” he says. Wrestling presents a unique challenge among sports because participants have to watch their poundage to qualify for a weight class in which they can be competitive.
“I’d like to travel more. I like surfing, which is typically in tropical places,” the courteous, earnest young man says. But his next trip in late July will be with his brother Dennis and sister Emi to their parents’ homeland, Bulgaria. “We’ll stay in Ruse [ROO-say] with my mom’s sister and her husband. Bulgaria is super tiny. They’re big on agriculture and dairy cows.” He is conversational in the language.