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Andrew Trujillo had some big wrestling shoes to fill.
And, so far, he’s done a pretty good job of it.
Trujillo is the next in what’s been a steady line of standout wrestlers at Robertson High School.
In all but one year dating back to 2000, the Cardinals have had at least one wrestler riding a multi-year, individual state championship streak.
Trujillo, a senior, already has three of his own and at next month’s state tournament in Rio Rancho, he will be gunning for his fourth, to become just the 27th wrestler in state history with at least that many. The list includes his brother Jonathan Trujillo, who is competing now at New Mexico Highlands University.
Wrestling at 145 pounds, the younger Trujillo has established a pretty lofty objective for the season.
“My goal is to go undefeated this year,” he said. “And I’m putting in a lot of hard work.”
Despite a schedule that included numerous Class 4A and 5A schools, it’s not really such a farfetched ideal as he went 46-1 last season, with the only loss coming on a fluke move.
“I like going against the bigger schools because it’s better competition,” Trujillo said. “It makes me work harder.”
As a matter of fact, that four-letter word, work, is a significant part of just about everything Trujillo says or does, said Robertson coach David Luna.
“As far as his leadership as a senior, we have a very young team and he leads by quiet example,” Luna said. “He doesn’t say a lot and he’s not a rah-rah guy, but he sets the tone of work and that to me is so much more important. You have to watch what he does through his work ethic.”
Trujillo is a link to Robertson’s storied past that the young wrestlers on the team can see, and they can watch how things are done properly.
“It helps establish the culture and that’s so important,” Luna said. “He becomes an extension of the coach on the mat and that’s invaluable. The kids respond and listen to him. It just makes my job so much easier when you have somebody like him setting the example and the culture of the practice room.”
Trujillo said he does understand his role as mentor and leader in the mat room, and he tries to guide the younger wrestlers as his brother led him.
“I just try to be the person that the team looks up to,” he said. “If I’m working hard, they they’re going to have to work hard. I just keep on them and keep them working.”
Trujillo, who started wrestling when he was five, comes from a true wrestling family as his three younger brothers have also taken to the mat.
The older brothers had their share of impromptu wrestling skirmishes around the house, although Jonathan Trujillo would usually prevail.
“We’d always go back and forth,” little brother Andrew Trujillo said with a chuckle. “But I’d get lucky sometimes.”
Despite his success, Trujillo said he still gets a little unsettled before matches, but it helps to know that opponents will be coming after him hard.
“Before most of my matches, I get the butterflies,” he said. “But I know that he’s going to come at me, so I have to go at him twice as hard and I have to be working twice hard as everybody else.”
That hard work has produced a wrestler who is technically very sound, rarely letting himself get into uncomfortable positions, Luna said.
“I call him Mr. Steady,” the coach said. “He’s one of the better wrestlers in the state, but he doesn’t vary very much. He’s always in good position. He’s good at attacking. He’s strong. He does well off the bottom position. He’s a pinner. I think all his decisions this year are by pins. He’s not flashy, but the word steady just fits him so well. He’s so fundamentally sound that it’s tough to do anything against him, and he attacks well.”
With time running out on his high school career, Trujillo is starting to look forward to wrestling in college and the one thing he knows is he’d like to get out of the state to do so.
For now, however, he’s going to concentrate on working hard. As usual.
“I like wrestling because it keeps me out of trouble and it makes me work hard for the things that I want,” Trujillo said. “That’s being a district champ and a state champ. The feeling is just great.”