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Golden Boy: Urquizo rides tidal wave of support to record books

Chris Urquizo will always remember the moment.

The Merced senior had just pinned Buchanan's Martin Fabbian to win the California Interscholastic Federation state championship.

Urquizo sprung to his feet and immediately glanced up into the second level of the Rabobank Arena.

What he saw will forever be etched into his memory -- the sight of some 30 family and friends going crazy in the stands.

"I looked up and saw my family celebrating," Urquizo said. "I could see everyone jumping up and down.

"I pointed up to them and they started chanting 'Urquiiiiiizo!' That really felt good."

Urquizo's senior year was a season of feel-good moments capped by standing at the top of the awards podium holding a gold medal.

After becoming the first Merced wrestler to win a state title in 22 years and compiling a 47-3 record, Urquizo is the Sun-Star Wrestler of the Year.

"It was an incredible season," said Merced coach Clayton Schneider, who is also the Sun-Star Wrestling Coach of the Year.

"It was an awesome run at the end. It was a great run all year, but the end when the matches got bigger and bigger... It was fun to watch.

"It was a lot of fun to go through."

Urquizo started wrestling when he was 5 years old.

That's when he put on his first singlet and officially stepped on the mat.

However, his real introduction to wrestling started in the Urquizo living room.

Urquizo is the youngest of four brothers. Beto, Steven, Phillip and Chris all wrestled.

Steven finished third in the state his senior season at Merced. He won a junior college state title for Fresno City this year.

There were many days when the furniture in the living room was pushed out of the way, and the four boys went at it.

"Being the youngest made me tough," Chris said. "I probably didn't win many matches in that living room being the youngest, but it made me the wrestler I am today."

Urquizo came close to winning a state championship his sophomore year.

He lost to Wood's Maxx Harpel in the finals.

That's what made last season so tough.

Urquizo was forced to sit out his junior year for academic reasons.

He went to only three matches because he couldn't bear watching from the stands.

It made him more determined this year.

It was his last shot at winning a state title.

He wasn't going to be denied in Bakersfield.

Not with all his family and friends in the crowd.

"I've coached all the Urquizo brothers," Schneider said. "I've known that family for 11 years now.

"I know wrestling is a huge part of that family. The way his family comes out to support him is awesome.

"I have some kids who go through my program, and I never meet their family. I think I know every member of the Urquizo family.

"I have people coming up to me at tournaments and giving me a hug. It's like, 'You must be an Urquizo from somewhere.' "

That's why it was so special to celebrate with his family after winning the state title.

"There's a lot of people I didn't want to let down," Urquizo said. "I also didn't want to let down myself."

No letdowns.

Just lifelong memories.

Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 385-2462 or via e-mail at sjansen@mercedsun-star.com.

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