Figueroa still trending towards wrestling stardom, despite missing chance at high school history


SELMA, Calif. (KGPE) – Because of COVID, Selma High senior wrestler Richard Figueroa missed out on a chance at a record-tying fourth state title.

“It hurts a lot, but not too much,” said Figueroa, at a college signing celebration for Richard at Selma High School Thursday — “because my coaches told me, ‘there’s a lot more down the road to accomplish.'”

“He acted like it was his fault, like ‘I’m sorry coach,'” said Selma High wrestling coach Sam Lopez, about the pandemic canceling the state wrestling tournament this year. “Sometimes you have no control over what the things are. I mean, God usually has a plan.”

The Selma senior also missed out on the chance to join older sister Gracie, as the only brother-sister combo to both win four California state titles.

“It kind of bums me out a little bit, but kind of happy a little bit (too),” said a laughing Gracie on Thursday. “Because (now) I’m the only one in the family to have four state titles.”

The question will continue to be debated about who is the best wrestler in the family.

“He’s the best-ever to come out of Selma,” said Gracie, before laughing again — “for the men’s side.”

But right now, there is no debating the best 126 pound, male junior wrestler is in the country. Because Figueroa, who suffered only two out-of-state losses as a freshman in his three years of high school competition, recently captured the junior national title a couple weeks ago in Iowa. He dominated the competition, despite being smaller and younger than most of the other wrestlers in his weight class — and not being super sharp when it came to live competition.

“If you saw some of the matches,” said Lopez. “It wasn’t even close.”

“It brought me excitement to see some fans,” said Richard, about the atmosphere in Iowa at the UWW Freestyle Nationals May 2. “(It) pumped me up, and I had a blast, showing out.”

That win means he will be representing Team USA at the Junior World Championships in Russia in August. Then after that, Richard will be off to Arizona State to begin his college wrestling career, but the way he is trending, that likely won’t be the end of his wrestling journey.

“That’s the dream,” summed up Richard, “to be Olympic champion.”

And perhaps, also make a new kind of sibling history with Gracie, who was crowned a senior national champion in Iowa.

“Just traveling the world together,” said Gracie about their goals, “and being the best there ever was.”

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July 23 2021 05:30 pm

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