Four years ago, at the year-end wrestling banquet, now San Manuel senior Franky Renteria stood among a few legends in Miners’ wrestling history – Manny Yubeta, P.J. Ponce, Al Trejo, and then teammate and multi-time State Champion Colten Smith.
“It means a lot, especially seeing all the state champs,” said a 106-pound Renteria that night. “It drives me to be a state champ like them. It makes me feel good to, hopefully, be as good as them and fill their shoes.”
Last Thursday in Prescott, a much stronger and heavier Renteria won the Division IV State Championship, defeating Morenci’s Frankie Gonzalez 10 – 4 to win the 170-pound weight class. And now Renteria is “a state champ like them” and a legend in Miners’ wrestling history, like them.
“It feels great,” Renteria told the Miner. “I looked up to a lot of these guys and I was hoping to be a state champ just like them, and now that I’ve finally reached that goal I’m hoping that I can give back to the Comets and help out as much as I can.”
“Those young kids have some hunger, just like me, and they remind me of myself,” he added. “It really pushes me to give back to the community and help those kids. It felt good to reach my goal and I want to help the younger kids reach theirs.”
After an illness prevented Renteria from wrestling in the state tournament as a freshman, he took third in state as a sophomore and finished second a year ago. His last step placed him at the top of the medal stand less than a week ago.
“It was really tough, especially after taking second my junior year,” Renteria answered when asked how he went from 106-pound freshman to a 170-pound State Champion four years later. “I did stuff normal people can’t (do); I trained at least three times a day.”
“I cut all the negativity out,” he continued. “For three months straight I sacrificed a lot; my friends, parties and a regular high school life.”
Despite the excitement and joy of winning a state title in Prescott on Thursday night, the thought of being a champion didn’t sink until later.
“It didn’t set in until I got to San Manuel,” Renteria said. “Once I was home and I looked at the town and the mountains, that’s when it really set in.”
Renteria, who is equally adept in the classroom as he is in the wrestling room, indicated his wrestling career is over, sort of. He plans to study at Pima Community College or Central Arizona College after graduation this spring before entering the College of Pharmacy at the University of Arizona in a couple of years.
He suggested his wrestling skills may come in handy after he earns his degree.
“I’m going to focus more on my schooling and make sure I get my pharmacy degree,” Renteria said. “After that, I’ll probably do some mixed martial arts and MMA fighting.”
Young San Manuel wrestlers have another pair of shoes to fill, just like Renteria aimed to do when he was a freshman.
And his pair may be the biggest yet in Miners’ history.