‘Rat’ Wins State Wrestling Title
Apr 08, 2016 11:19AM ● Published by Bryan Scott
By Greg James | email@example.com
West Valley - The 126-pound 5A state wrestling championship match was decided by one point, despite the winner’s broken ankle in the match’s final minute.
Hunter High School senior Antonio “Rat” Ruiz was carried off the mat by his coach, Terry Allen, and despite the pain he knew he had won his family’s first state wrestling championship.
“My ankle hurt, but I was super pumped. I think it felt numb and warm, but my mom was freaking out and crying,” Ruiz said.
Ruiz led his state championship match 7-1 entering the final minute. As he engaged with Brighton High sophomore Brayden Stevens, he felt his ankle get caught underneath him. He said the pain was incredible and immediately fell on his back into a near fall position (almost a pin).
“I was on my back and had to push off with my heel and leg to get rolled onto my stomach,” Ruiz said. “I knew if I could build a base and stall it out I would be OK. I knew if they stopped the match I would be disqualified for my injury because I knew I could not stand up.”
The injury cost Ruiz four points, but he held on for the 7-6 victory.
“My grandpa helped support me so the referee could raise my hand, and then coach Allen carried me off the mat,” Ruiz said.
Ruiz had wrestled Stevens several times over his career. Ruiz said it was always an even match. His state championship capped off the tournament for the Wolverine senior.
Ruiz defeated Mountain Crest freshman Jace Dart 10-1 in the tournament’s opening round on Feb. 10. He faced another Mountain Crest wrestler, senior Karthner Knight and beat him 9-4 to qualify him for the second day of the tournament. Knight was the division champion and finished third in the weight class.
On day two of the tournament, Ruiz faced Pleasant Grove sophomore Matthew Zorn and defeated him 13-3 to put him in the championship match.
“Rat is a hard worker,” assistant coach Derek Jensen said. “He would stay after practice and work on his weakness. He even would work on figuring out ways to beat his opponents’ best moves. He knew one of his opponents was good at the fireman carry (a move diving at the mid section and flipping them on their back). He practiced defending that for a week so he would be ready.”
Ruiz finished fourth in the state tournament his junior year and won one match in the state tournament his sophomore year.
“Hunter has been a great experience,” Ruiz said. “I learned and helped build the program. I learned to work hard even if I did not have a partner to wrestle.”