|Bound for Bakersfield
Guerrero is RCís lone grappler at the CIF state wrestling tourney
Brian Guerrero quietly has put together one of the best high school wrestling careers in the annuls of Rancho Cotate High School.
Guerrero’s high school wrestling career, however, comes to an end this weekend at the California Interscholastic Federation State Wrestling Championships at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield. This will be Guerrero’s second consecutive trip to the state meet. Thus far, his seasonal record is 25-5. Guerrero, who will turn 18 on April 18, has a career mark of 107-33.
Before a tough, one-point loss to Windsor’s Noah Au-Yeung in the 120-pound finals of the North Bay League Wrestling Championships on Feb. 22, Guerrero, a senior, was a three-time defending league champion. Unfortunately for Guerrero, Au-Yeung used an escape to knock Guerrero out of the semifinals of last weekend’s North Coast Section Wrestling Championships at Newark Memorial High in Newark.
“Originally, my goal was to make it to the NCS final and win it, but everything didn’t fall into place,” Guerrero said. “Losing to him (Au-Yeung) at league was a pretty big disappointment, but it motivated me to work harder last week. It helped me practice harder and I knew it would be hard work just getting to the third place match at NCS. But making it to state was my ultimate goal at the start of the year. And winning that third-place match was a relief…there was a lot of pressure going into that match for me.”
Guerrero admitted his first appearance at the state tournament was daunting, to say the least. Like all wrestlers who advance to the state championships, one of the most difficult parts of the tournament is waiting in the tunnel with all the other wrestlers for the opening match.
“It was very big eye opener,” Guerrero said. “It was surreal…I hadn’t been there before. There were so many people. It was like a big culture shock. I know what to expect this time around, so I expect to do a lot better than last year.”
Guerrero said he’s hoping to medal at state, which means placing in the top eight.
“Everyone knows this is a tough tournament,” Guerrero said. “But it’s very important to me to make it to the second day of the tournament. With the luck of the draw, who knows what can happen? I have super high expectations for myself.”
Guerrero’s success on the mat is a testament to his own self-motivation and the support of his family, particularly his father, Mike. The recent coaching situation at Rancho Cotate has not been as stable as in years past because of coaching changes.
Surrounded by such coaching uncertainty, Guerrero’s father took the lead role in coaching.
“My dad been there for me for all four years,” Brian Guerrero proudly states. “Without him I wouldn’t be where I am in the sport. I don’t know what’s happened or what’s going to happen with the coaching here, but my dad was there and that’s what mattes to me.”
When the fall rolls around, Guerrero will be enrolled at Chadron State College in Nebraska, which is a Div. II school where he plans to continue his wrestling career.
He plans to major in Criminal Justice.
“My dad was in the military, and the idea of being a cop one day is something I would like to do.”
Guerrero, who also attended Creekside Middle School in RP, started wrestling in fifth grade and his been dedicated to the sport ever since.
He also has a strong sense of regional pride. An example is his feelings on fellow NBL member school Windsor winning last week’s NCS team championship. To put Windsor’s victory in perspective, no team in the NBL had won an NCS team title since Ukiah in 1989. Moreover, the only team north of the Golden Gate Bridge other than Ukiah to win before Windsor was Del Norte of Crescent City in 2001.
“I think it was very important because up here, this area’s not really known for good wrestling,” he said. “But Windsor winning will bring more attention to wrestling up here and more wrestlers will come out. They’ve got a great coaching staff at Windsor and they did a great job.”