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20110205_Rudy-Gonzalez-Wrestling_001It is hard not to think of the name Rudy and not think of the underdog former football player from Notre Dame who overcame adversity to make the Irish roster. The name has become synonymous with the overachieving underdog.

For Veterans Memorial High School, they have a Rudy of their own, with a slight twist. Senior Rudy Gonzalez is the Patriot's star wrestler, not an underdog. In last weekend's (Saturday and Monday) District 31-5A championships, Rudy took home the title in the 125-lb. weight class. Of course, if you know this wrestler, you know a district championship routine for the star athlete. Rudy has now won back-to-back-to-back-to-back district championships. When it comes to the district, there is no underdog in this Rudy.

However, the Regional Meet is something else. The senior has been to regionals the past three years, but has yet to take first. He hopes this year will be different.

“It feels good and was kinda special,” says Gonzalez of this past district championship. “[But] I really want to get that regional championship.”

If there was a year to get over the hump, this is it. Rudy is the front runner to claim the championship. To do that, according to Rudy and his coach, the athlete has to be mentally prepared.

20110205_Rudy-Gonzalez-Wrestling_006“[Rudy] has all the physical tools,” says Wrestling Coach, Edric Pacheco. “[The key] is gonna be consistency and no complacency.”

The feat will not be easy. Rudy will likely be facing his growing rival David Diaz of Nikki Rowe. Coming into the season Diaz was considered by as the Region IV top competitor. Since then, Rudy has beaten the Rowe Warrior twice, including last weekend.

However, beating a competitor three times is no easy task and would be an incredible feat. As Coach Pacheco knows, Diaz and his coaches are doing everything they can to prepare for the rematch, strategizing in every which way to ensure payback.

Pacheco says his own competitor will be ready for the challenge if he is sure on his fundamentals and keeps his focus. By doing so, his coach says, Rudy will be able to use his quickness, his explosion and his agility to beat Diaz for the third time.

Though he has dominated district since he was a freshman, getting to this point has not been easy. Like the football Rudy, success was preceded by hard work. For those not familiar with the challenges of wrestling, it involves much more than just the physical exertion spent on the mat. Wrestlers have to be conditioned beyond other athletes. Staying active constantly, focusing on what they are eating each day and trying to cut any sugar is the focus needed outside the wrestling room. As his coach says, the life of a wrestler literally becomes a lifestyle.

That pretty much explains the four-time champion. Rudy's life is wrestling. When the sport is not in season, Gonzalez heads off to summer camps to learn more about how to make the lifestyle more efficient, enhancing his agility and his explosiveness.

After this year, the wrestling dream and lifestyle will continue. Gonzalez just recently signed with Lindenwood University in Missouri and will be taking his talents there next season.

Though Rudy had offers from schools out of Wisconsin and Iowa, the champion felt the Lions were the right choice.

“I like the program and the coaching staff. It felt like the right place.”

Being in the right place is something Rudy is getting used to. Come this weekend for regionals, the four-time district champion hopes his place will be first.

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