“The little guys, they love to come watch him wrestle,” said Cardinals coach Mark James Martinez. “One time, his match was forfeited and they were real upset. They wanted to know if he could do an exhibition match.”
Trujillo leads his squad into today’s opening round of the state wrestling tournament at the Santa Ana Star Center hoping to regain the team trophy he helped Robertson win when he was a freshman earning his first individual title.
“We have a full lineup,” Martinez said. “The seeding went good. We’re ready to make sure everybody takes it to (opponent) Silver City. They have a little bit of an advantage, but hopefully we can get a little bit of help from other teams. We want to go in there hungry instead of overconfident.”
For the Cardinals, it starts with a trio of Trujillos: Jonathan; his younger brother, sophomore Andrew; and his cousin Tristan, all of whom are returning state champs, as is Babatunde Okundaye.
Jonathan Trujillo is going for his fourth individual state title, which would make him one of only 22 wrestlers in New Mexico to achieve at least that many.
“Very big,” he said of that achievement. “This is what I’ve been training for my whole life.”
Normally a 132-pounder, Trujillo will be wrestling two weight classes up at 145 to better help the team. And that just illustrates his character, Martinez said.
“It’s definitely a true honor to be his coach,” the coach said. “An honor and a privilege. He really sets the expectations for the future as far as work ethic in the wrestling room and his leadership.”
And even though he’s going up against bigger, strong wrestlers, Martinez said he’s confident in his Cardinals star.
“He’s one of the best on his feet,” he said. “His riding, he just crushes people on top. On the bottom, everybody has a hard time holding him down. A lot of it is technique. A lot of mat time, a lot of dedication, commitment to himself. Extra workouts. Morning workouts; he’s here at 6 a.m. He doesn’t miss practice A.M. or P.M.”
Trujillo said he relishes the challenge of going up against the heavier opponents.
“I want to go the wrestle the best guys I can in the weight class,” he said. “Just going against guys much stronger. It’s just the strength that gets me. It puts me in more of crunch than I’m used to.”
While the state tournament puts him into a crunch situation, he faces daily pressures as a role model, not only for younger brother Andrew, but also for two others on their way up, not to mention roomfuls of up-and-coming Cardinals.
“They’re the same as high school, just a little younger,” Trujillo said. “They need more attention. They’re always on top of me when I come in.”
And now with this season winding down to its close, he’s started to think a little bit ahead about where he wants to continue competing collegiately.
Martinez said that, selfishly, he’d like to see Trujillo follow in his own footsteps and stay home at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, N.M.
But Trujillo said he’s strongly considering following another Cardinal, former Robertson five-time state champion Rico Montoya, at Northern Colorado in Greeley.
“Rico really wants me to go there,” Trujillo said. “I’m going to go visit over spring break.”
Regardless of where his starter goes to college, Martinez said he knows Trujillo will be a success on the mat and in life.
” …a lot of wrestlers, they win that first state championship or two, then they lose a little bit of the hunger, the eye of the tiger, that edge,” he said. “They get a little lazy, take things for granted. He stayed believing in himself, he stays committed. He’s knows what he needs to do to accomplish his goals.”