San Manuel’s Rodriguez motivated after runner-up finish at State Wrestling Tournament

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Gilbert Rodriguez. Photo by Vince Apuron.

  After winning the Division IV 106-LB State Championship as a freshman, San Manuel sophomore wrestler Gilbert Rodriguez wasted no time setting his goals for the 2018-19 season.

  “I want to wrestle in the 120’s,” he told The San Manuel Miner only days after becoming a state champion. “My training never stops, and I started working as soon as I returned home.”

  All the work paid off as Rodriguez entered last month’s State Wrestling Championships as the No. 2 seed with a 53 – 3 record in the 120-lb weight class. Following three-straight WBF’s, Rodriguez grappled against top-seed and undefeated Emilio Ysaguirre of Santa Cruz in the finals. Ysaguirre, who defeated Rodriguez at the Coolidge tournament earlier this season, narrowly escaped with a 6 – 5 decision in the rematch to claim the state title. Despite missing consecutive state championships by the slimmest of margins, Rodriguez finds motivation in defeat.

  “We had a great game plan,” Rodriguez said. “Maybe if a few calls would’ve gone our way it could’ve changed the whole match.

  “I learn from my mistakes,” he continued. “It’s motivating because I lost. I know there’s always going to a person out there that can beat me, but I want to be the one that’s on top.”

  Just as he did a year ago, Rodriguez is already back to work, preparing for next season.

  His plans include competing at the U.S. Marine Corps/USAW Junior National Championships in Fargo, North Dakota, this summer.

  The goal next season remains the same:  Win a state championship.

  One thing that won’t change is his weight class.

  “Just because of how easy I made it,” he said. “I’m going to stay at 120 for another year.”

  Rodriguez has made it look easy the past two seasons even though it’s not.

Andy Luberda (1109 Posts)

Andrew Luberda began writing for Copper Area News Publishers (CANP) in February 2013 after working 15 years in Healthcare Financial Management. Andy covers sports for 11 high schools. His stories are published in Copper Basin News, San Manuel Miner and Superior Sun, in addition to the San Tan Valley Daily PRSS and CopperArea websites. Additionally, he has written human interest stories and business profiles. In May 2012, he earned an AAS in Sports Management at Central Arizona College before graduating with a BS in Communication from Arizona State University in 2014. He and his wife, Kelli, have three sons – AJ, Kyle, and Kade.


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