While Lakewood was on winter break, senior Randy Gonzalez Jr. spent his time competing in a couple of the top wrestling tournaments on the West Coast.

The 285-pound heavyweight first competed Dec. 29-30 at the Tournament of Champions at Cerritos College, where he took third place.

While third place is an impressive feat, the senior said he isn’t satisfied with his finish and has higher expectations for himself, especially when it comes to CIF. Gonzalez Jr. is a two-time runner-up in CIF, so his goals start there.

“I want to win CIF,” Gonzalez Jr. said. “I want to secure a first place CIF finish and I also want to win Master’s and my biggest goal is to compete in the state finals.”

At 22-5, Gonzalez Jr’s losses have come to the top wrestlers in the nation. But the senior said he has grown after each loss and is looking to build on those experiences so he is better equipped for potential rematches.

At the Doc Buchanan Tournament last weekend, Gonzalez Jr. finished with another third-place trophy. His only loss came to Cohlton Schultz — No. 2-ranked 285-pounder in the nation — from Colorado.

“It was very tough, but not many people get the opportunity to wrestle a world champ,” Gonzalez Jr. said. “It’s one of the biggest tournaments on the West Coast, so you have to have the mindset you can’t get ahead of yourself or someone will catch you slipping.”

Although it wasn’t the finish he would have liked, Gonzalez Jr. said that the opportunity gave him a confidence boost as he continued to make it further through the tournament. The progression and fierce completion gives Gonzalez a gauge to see where he’s at as a wrestler and where he can improve.

These solo experiences have been beneficial for Gonzalez Jr. He said he has become a better leader to his teammates on the Lakewood team.

“I like to show the guys what it means to practice hard,” Gonzalez Jr. said. “A lot of guys have confidence issues, but I show them that starting off and working your way up — that it’s possible and that can happen and I can show them that through all of my accomplishments that they can do it.”

Gonzalez will be back on the mat this weekend when he competes at the Five Counties Invitational in Fountain Valley. 

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