Perez’s first match of the day Saturday was in the semifinals against Clovis High’s Jonas Gaytan. Perez ended up on the losing side of the match and also had a bad back injury in the process.
“I hurt my back,” said Perez about the semifinal match. “My dad asked me after if I wanted to still wrestle and I said no; there was just so much pain. When I got to the stands I was thinking, ‘Why am I going to take anything less than third now? I lost, I need to get over it and push through to place.’”
The junior did just that as he beat Ponderosa’s Mason Pengilly in the consolation semifinals, 9-1. Then Perez pinned La Quinta’s George Torrez in two minutes to capture the bronze medal.
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“In the condition I’m in right now, I’m satisfied that I was able to take third because for me to continue on with this injury is crazy, but I just showed something like that is possible” Perez said. “I hope others feel the same way as me, have the drive to take the highest place you can and do whatever it takes along the way.”
In three years of competing at the state meet, Perez has captured two third-place medals. With only one year left, he’s hoping to pull out all the stops.
“My mindset next year is go out and work even harder than I ever have,” Perez said. “This year, I’ll be honest, I was slacking and wasn’t training the best I could, so next year I’m just going to go all out.”