YAKIMA, Wash. -- Andres Aguilera is proud of his wrestling resume and he has every reason to be. It’s as rare as it is decorated.
A three-time Mat Classic finalist, two-time state champion, 116 career wins and currently the state’s top-ranked wrestler for all classes at 170 pounds.
Every bit of it is elite.
But for this Toppenish senior it’s a multi-dimensional resume with independent parts. No matter how impressive the list of achievements grows, Aguilera keeps starting from scratch. And now, for one last time.
“Nobody owns a spot, you have to earn it. That’s the mindset I’ve always had,” Aguilera said in his quiet, understated way. “I know the reputation that I have will bring a lot of attention and with that comes guys trying to get the spotlight off of me. I’m not one to worry about that, I’m more concerned with how hard I’m working.”
Leaving all his titles and medals behind and starting anew in his mind, Aguilera launched his final season last Saturday with a win at the loaded White River Invitational, where he was reminded how tough these journeys are. After a 4-1 win in the semifinals, he muscled his way to a 3-2 finals triumph over an opponent ranked third in the state — all classes — at 182.
“What I’ve always liked about Andy is his consistency and how he always competes at a high level,” said Toppenish coach Johnny Cerna. “He knows how tough it is at the top. I’ve told him about pushing himself and setting his own standards. Don’t worry about anybody else and put in the work — he gets that.”
Aguilera’s arrival was impressive in itself — a freshman reaching the Class 2A state final at 126 and coming up just short — a narrow 3-1 decision — to a senior.
It was no fluke. A year later he jumped up four weights and knocked off a two-time state champion for the 152 title, leading the Wildcats to a second straight state championship.
What did he do as a follow-up to that? More.
Capping a 46-2 season during which he was also state academic champion at his weight, Aguilera dominated the 170 field with three pins and a measured, no-mistakes 4-0 decision in the final.
A run like this requires all sorts of focus and discipline to go with the reboot mentality. It also helps to be in the Toppenish room, where Aguilera often practices with state medalists Carson Northwind and Keyano Zamarripa, both winners at White River and past champions from the Wildcats’ vaunted program.
“I try to wrestle everybody in practice because I want to see as many styles as possible,” he said. “They’re working on their stuff, I’m working on mine, and we get better together.”
Aguilera spent much of last season competing up at 170 before settling at 160 for the postseason. He may do that again, or he may stay at 170. “We’ll see,” he shrugged. “I don’t want to focus on my weight. I’m more concerned with my technique and skill. Besides, there’s a really good guy at every weight.”
While balancing his activities with strong academics and baseball, make no mistake about it — Aguilera wants and expects to be that guy again.
It’s an intense desire that parallels the team’s quest to return to the top. To that end Cerna has assembled an ambitious schedule that includes a trip to Clovis, Calif., for the Zinkin Classic hosted by Buchanan High School, which is ranked No. 10 in the nation.
“There’s more to it now that I’m a senior,” Aguilera said. “I want to be an example for everybody. I have an obligation to do that, to inspire the guys with my success. I look around and see how hard we work and I think, yes, we’re the team to beat.”
Every season is new, but that remains the same.