Two recent Belen High School graduates added national wresting honors to their already impressive list of state honors in April.
Wrestlers Wyatt Robinson and Philip Gonzales both placed in the top eight spots and earned All-American accolades at the 2013 Senior Nationals High School Wrestling Championships in Virginia Beach, Va.
These honors came after the two became BHS’ first three-time New Mexico state champions in their respective weight classes.
Robinson finished eighth in the 145-pound weight class while Gonzales finished seventh in the 120-pound weight class to earn All-American at the tournament.
“Becoming an All-American was the most unreal feeling ever,” Robinson said.
Robinson, who has been wrestling since seventh grade, lost his first match of the tournament in triple overtime, but rallied through the consolation bracket. beating four state champions and a state runner-up in his quest for a spot in the top eight.
“I was really worried after I lost my first match,” he said. “And I knew I would have to do what was almost impossible just to place.”
Robinson later took on the Texas state champion in his crucial fifth match and walked away with a 5-2 win to guarantee a top spot. But he lost the next two matches, to place eighth in the tournament.
Although Gonzales was a little unsatisfied with his performance at the national championship, he walked away with a feeling of “I finally did it,” as he put it.
“Of all the years for me to do it, it was senior year,” Gonzales said of his tournament results. “(It) feels great! Feels even better to have a partner like Wyatt out there and do almost exactly what (he did).”
Gonzales said he believes this year was one of his most successful seasons in his 14 years of wrestling.
“I believe I have taken a huge leap since last year and every year since seventh grade,” he said. “I needed to realize my potential I guess. I’ve always hated to lose, but I learned a lot from it though.”
Gonzales said losing has taught him to stay humble and to be respectful at all times, never allowing his head to get too big.
“This year, becoming an All-American and a three-time state champion has opened opportunities in furthering my education and gives me a chance to take my wrestling career a little further.”
Gonzales said he hasn’t decided which college to attend, but he’s determined to continue to compete at the college level.
“Wrestling at the next level has always been a dream of mine,” said Gonzales. “Wrestling is my life!”
The two have been wrestling side by side for years.
Belen High School wrestling coach Lee Chaves said he is proud of both wrestlers’ accomplishments on the mat and in the classroom. The two seniors became Belen High’s first three-time Class 4A State Champions in their respective weight classes earlier this year.
Chaves added that he hopes Robinson will be a role model for other student athletes, as they watch him excel in both sports and academics.
Robinson, a member of the National Honor Society, also signed a National Letter of Intent to wrestle for Grand Canyon University last month.
He received $16,000 worth of academic and athletic scholarships to attend the Phoenix-area Division I university.