Glenbard North two-time state champion wrestler eyes undefeated season
When Austin Gomez says wrestling is his life, it is not hyperbole.
Gomez, a two-time state champion for Glenbard North, was born into a family with a father who wrestled and coached and an older brother, Joe, who would go on to become a two-time state champion himself and wrestle at the University of Illinois.
“When I was born, I was going to be a wrestler,” Gomez told the DuPage Policy Journal.
Later on, Gomez's parents even took a picture of him as a little kid lining up against an imaginary opponent, he said.
These days, Gomez's real opponents wish he were imaginary. In addition to the state titles, he has lost just two matches in the last two seasons – one in each – and only one to an in-state opponent.
In 2015, Gomez claimed a 4-3 decision over Oak Park-River Forest's Jason Renteria to win the Class 3A 113-pound title. That was a rematch after Renteria dealt Gomez his only loss that season.
Last season, he won the 126-pound title, again with only one loss on the season to Joe Silva of Florida in the 126-pound title match in the Al Dvorak Memorial Invitational at Harlem High School in Rockford. Last year's championship was a big one for him.
“It felt good to come back in the way that I did because it showed how good I was and how good I really am,” he said.
This season, Gomez has his sights set on an undefeated record when he wrestles at 132 pounds.
“I just really want to dominate all my opponents this year and prove that I'm the best wrestler that this state has to offer,” he said.
What Gomez said he loves most about wrestling is “embracing the grind” of the sport in workouts and the like, while also enjoying the toughness the sport breeds.
“I just like the fact that, you know, it's just two guys going out in the middle of the mat, and you get to prove all your hard work, all your practice, hours of practice – 20 to 30 hours of practice a week – you get to show it in six to seven minutes of a wrestling match,” he said.
Wrestling also has become a year-round sport for him, one with no real offseason. While away from the high school season, in addition to constantly competing in events, Gomez said he works on being more offensive and forcing his opponents to wrestle his match.
He also has had a full slate of tournaments since winning the state title. At the recent Agony in Ames, a high-school All-Star wrestling meet held Oct. 29, Gomez beat Alex Thomsen of Iowa by major decision, 18-6, at 132, according to FloWrestling.org. He also competed in the 2016 Who's #1 event in October in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; won the 126-pound title at the Junior Freestyle National Championships in July in Fargo, North Dakota; and made the finals at 55 kilograms in the Junior World Team Trials in May in Irving, Texas.
Gomez already has determined his next field of conquest after high school, when he will join the Iowa State University program. Gomez said he visited and was contacted by numerous big-time wrestling programs, but Iowa State's coaching staff and academic options drew him there.
“I just knew Iowa State felt like home,” he said.