BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Adrian Godinez's mind is always on the biggest accomplishment he can achieve at whatever level he's competing.
"I don't fight just to be a regular basic guy," said Godinez, a freshman Bakersfield College wrestler. "I'm fighting to be the best."
That attitude helped Godinez confirm himself as the best on Dec. 9 at the CCCAA Wrestling State Championships in Stockton, winning the state title at 184 pounds.
Godinez was BC's only state champion from the weekend and became the first Renegades title winner since 2014. Head coach Brett Clark wanted the team to finish among the top three, but BC's fifth-place finish was still its best team performance since 2005.
Pedro Corona, a 133-pound sophomore, also wrestled a finals match but fell to Isaiah Perez of Fresno City. He earned second for his second year in a row of All-American honors.
Though BC isn't where Godinez feels like he should be, he was dead set on making his time with the Renegades count.
"I'm pretty happy with my success right now," Godinez said. "I know it's just a step higher that I took and I know that all my hard work didn't go to waste."
Godinez's state championship this year was his first of any kind. In high school, he medaled twice at the CIF State Wrestling Championships, held back by injuries both times.
He still tapes up his ankle from an injury his senior year of high school, but said he felt "pretty good" and that everyone was just as banged up as he was heading into the state tournament.
The much talked about matchup before the tournament was Godinez against teammate Jeremy Maas, who was ranked No. 2 in the state. But Maas lost to Mount San Antonio College's Luis Melecio in the semifinal.
Godinez got revenge for Maas in the title bout, beating Melecio, 10-4. Godinez nearly ended the match in the first period with a takedown and four-point near-fall. Godinez knew he had a big lead that would be almost impossible to lose.
"I don't think he shot a take down at all in the state final," Clark said. "The guy shot on him and he scored all his points off that guy. ... He doesn't have to force things in matches. Where some guys have to create to score, he doesn't. He kind of just lets it come to him and that's very rare."
When the match was over, the official raised Godinez's arm and declared him the winner.
"It was just a relief that all the stress and all the work and time everybody's put into me has finally paid off for the year," Godinez said. "But I knew at the moment, I can't just bask in the success that I live in right now because there are still more higher ladders to climb."
Godinez talked to a couple D-II coaches at the state tournament, he said, that asked him about taking visits to their schools.
But his goal is still to go D-I and stay close to Bakersfield at Fresno State. The Fresno State coaches want Godinez to redshirt at BC next season, he said, get his associate's degree and enroll at Fresno State after that. That'll leave him with three years of eligibility.
If this was Godinez's only year competing on the junior college level, he went out on top.
"When I go to a D-I school, the biggest accomplishment at D-I is a national championship so I'm gonna be targeting for that," Godinez said. "No matter what level you're at, the end result, the biggest tournament … that's what you're working for."
(Courtesy Bakersfield Californian)