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.