Santa Maria Sun / Sports Lead
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 2
Warrior legacyWrestler Luke Wilson is aiming to bring home another national title for Righetti
BY KRISTINA SEWELL
Luke Wilson has just finished wrestling practice for the day. Tall and lean, the senior is fidgety from nerves and adrenaline. The walls in the wrestling room at Righetti clearly paint a picture of a legacy of champions from league titles to All-American honors.
The young wrestler fits right in.
For the last four years, Wilson has been building a legacy of his own. Earlier this month, he took the championship title at the CIF tournament in Bakersfield. According to the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District, Wilson is Righetti’s first champion since 1977—making him the eighth in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties’ 41-year history.
The state tournament was a two-day event held at Rabobank Arena and featured 295 qualifying high school wrestlers. In front of 1,500 spectators, Wilson outwrestled the 43 participants in his 152-pound weight class to take the state title.
Prior to the five-match final round, Wilson wrestled four previous matches in the two-loss elimination tournament. When the final moments came and Wilson made the pin, he said he couldn’t believe it.
“I was smiling; I had so much adrenaline,” he explained. “It didn’t really sink in until I came off the mat.”
The state title was one more addition to an already stellar season; out of 42 matches, Wilson lost only two.
“I was mad about those losses, but I ended up beating them both at state,” Wilson said, smiling.
The Warrior is now preparing for the nationals tournament in Virginia Beach, starting April 2. One of the more prestigious wrestling tournaments offered, it’s an invite-only event. Wilson was invited as a new state champion, an eighth placement in California his junior year and a three-time state qualifier.
Held at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, the tournament will be a big draw for college coaches. Righetti has previously sent seven wrestlers, who were all offered college scholarships. Among them is Wilson’s friend and former teammate Josh Rodriguez, who brought home the national title and a scholarship to North Dakota State University.
With the nationals tournament only a couple weeks away, Wilson is preparing with regimented practices and making sure he stays healthy. That means eating right, getting sleep, and being smart on the weekends.
“Mostly I’m trying not to think about it,” he said. “I don’t want to over-think it.”
Former Righetti wrestling coach Dutch Van Patten, who has known Luke since he was a kid, said the wrestler is honest, mild-mannered, and humble.
“His major strengths are his natural ability, confidence, and work ethic,” Van Patten said. “It takes all three to be a champion, and Luke has the right mix.”
Van Patten said he’s seen a lot of good wrestlers, and Wilson is among the best he’s ever coached, including current wrestling coach Andrew Domingues.
A former Warrior wrestler, Domingues took fourth at nationals in 2002, earning honors as Righetti’s first All-American athlete. After wrestling on scholarship at the University of Minnesota, Domingues has now returned as a coach.
Domingues, who’s coached Wilson for the last three years, said the high schooler is one of the most focused and determined individuals he’s worked with.
“His work ethic in the classroom and on the mat reveal how he is an exceptional student-athlete,” Domingues said. “Luke’s leadership qualities have been an important factor in his success and the success of the Righetti wrestling program.”
Following in the footsteps of exceptional wrestlers and brothers Adam and Eric Wilson, Luke Wilson has been wrestling since he was in fifth grade. Despite his tremendous success, he said he doesn’t like to boast or be cocky. He explained that wrestling and his coaches, aside from teaching him good sportsmanship, have taught him to be a good person.
“It’s helped me build character, work ethic, and taught me to rely on myself,” he said.
The young wrestler’s love for the sport lies in its competitive, individual nature.
“I love competition, and you have to train harder because there is always someone better than you,” he said, adding that while he loves the sport, it comes with challenges like any other sport.
“The training is tough; no one likes to do it, but you have to. Eating healthy is tough, too—but I cheat sometimes,” he admitted.
While Wilson said wrestling and athletics are a big part of what defines him, he does like to hang with friends, play video games, and play basketball with friends when he isn’t being a dedicated student-athlete. As for college, Wilson said he wants to wrestle and has options; he wants to major in kinesiology.
A level-headed, dedicated, and determined athlete, Wilson is expected to do great things, establishing a legacy of hard work and responsibility that’s already earned him a place in the Warrior Hall of Fame.
“The sky is the limit for him,” Van Patten said. “If he puts in the time and energy, he can do anything.”
Staff Writer Kristina Sewell thinks things are looking up. Contact her at email@example.com.