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Gaud's eyes the future
Pierre Gaud's first state title is barely a month old.
That's not stopping him from thinking about Nos. 2 and 3.
Gaud was the only local wrestler to win a state title, taking first at 145 pounds in Division I, and was named the Yuma Sun/Yuma Rotary Club 2011-2012 Wrestler of the Year.
And even though Gaud is thinking about becoming the first three-time champ in Cibola history, he knows it's just talk. It's going to take action to turn it into a reality.
“I'm a lot more motivated defending it than I was going for it. It was a little bit of a surprise, but now I know what I can do. I know what my limits are, I know what they aren't, I know I can do it.”
Last year, Gaud did not place as a freshman. His expectations were higher not just for himself, but for the team as well as the Raiders were on a quest for team title. Gaud hit his personal goal, but the Raiders missed the team title by 1.5 points, losing to Chandler by essentially one win.
“It was a little surprising, but it turned out how I think it should have. The only thing that didn't turn out how it should have was the team standing at state. We should have been the ones taking it, not taking second. We lost by a few points but, I don't know, it shouldn't have been like that.”
It's not just youthful exuberance that has Gaud's sights set on two more state titles. Coach Mike Jankowski said the talk is anything but premature.
“If you win it as a sophomore, it's never too early to talk about it,” Jankowski said. “He went through his weight class, beat a lot of the kids either people didn't expect him to or he might have lost to the year before or in the summer. He turned it on at the end of the year and he really could be our first three-timer.”
After missing the first tournament of the year, Gaud never finished lower than fourth in any tournament and finished 33-4. He won the section tournament leading up to state and was also the city champ.
“Coming into the year, we knew he could do,” Jankowski said. “He was one of six guys who had their eyes set on a state title and obviously the only one who achieved it.”
Both Jankowski and Gaud may be thinking about two more titles, but neither one is taking it for granted.
“The way I see it is everyone is going to give him their best match,” Jankowski said. “He's everyone's Super Bowl. He is the returning state champ. Everyone is going to come at him with everything he's got.
“They're going to wrestle harder, smarter. This next year, he should be ready because a lot of people are going to come after him and they're going to come after him with more intensity he's ever seen.”
Gaud said he's prepared for the work he's going to have to put into his title defense.
“It does kind of set a target on your back and it's put a bigger burden on my back by thinking about losing. It's even worse that I have a title to defend. But you just have to be ready when the time comes, which is the state tournament. I was ready this year. I just have to be ready the next two years.”
Edward Carifio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org