Gomez a good sport, win or lose

Chatfield wrestler Juan Gomez has his sights set on the state tournament this year. In the 189 pound weight division Gomez has 30-1 record so far this year.

High school wrestling fans have heard the story about the wrestler who became so uncontrollably angry after he lost a match that he’s now facing criminal charges for hurting an innocent bystander.

Emotions and adrenaline run high on the mat, especially at tournament time, which is now here.

There are negative and destructive ways to handle disappointment, and then there is the example set by Juan Gomez, the Chatfield senior who lost his only match this regular season on a referee’s call.

Gomez is 30-1 and ranked No. 6 at 189 pounds in Class A, but more than all of his wins this season, Chatfield head coach Joel Viss will remember that one loss two weeks ago at a tournament in Janesville.

Gomez was deadlocked in his championship match with another unbeaten wrestler, Sibley East freshman Nathan Rose, the No. 4-ranked 189-pounder in Class A.


"We were both trying to gain control, but we were so equal it was hard," Gomez said.

Both wrestlers were called for stalling once, which is just a warning. But when Gomez was called for stalling a second time, Rose was awarded a point. Rose eventually claimed a 2-1 decision.

"The ref came up to me afterward and said he had never seen such great sportsmanship (as what Gomez displayed)," Viss related.

"He said that (Gomez) must have complimented (Rose) on his effort three times before they got back to the circle. I‘m a big fan of Juan’s, but I was never more proud of him."

Gomez had a simple explanation for his reasonable approach — respect for his opponent.

"It takes a lot of effort for both wrestlers, but one has to come out with a loss," he said. "There’s no use in being angry about losing."

They call him 'Gordo'

It’s probably that easy-going approach that earned Gomez the title of Snow King this week at Chatfield High School, where they are celebrating Snow Week. His queen is senior Brooke Benike.


And it must be his friendly disposition that allows Gomez to not only tolerate but revel in his unflattering nickname: Gordo.

"It means Fat Boy," Gomez explained with a laugh. "My parents have called me Gordo ever since I was born, I guess, because I was a pretty chubby kid.

"They don’t even call me by my name anymore; when they come to my wrestling matches, everyone can hear them yelling, ‘Go Gordo!’"

The Gomez family, which includes parents Juan and Chrisalia, Juan (Junior) and his younger sisters Karen and Kayla, moved to Chatfield from Mexico 10 years ago, when Juan was 7.

"We lived in a small town like Chatfield (in Mexico), and it was nice; I have some good memories of that place," Juan said.

"My parents had jobs there, but they felt we needed the chance for a better education, and that’s why we came to the U.S."

The Gomez's are a close-knit family. Juan’s parents and sisters never miss a wrestling match, and Juan got a genuine thrill watching his sister Karen compete in cross country in the fall.

"She is just an eighth-grader and she almost got to state; she finished 12th at the section meet and the top 10 go (to state)," Juan said proudly.


What's next

Gomez is closing in on 100 career wins and will be vying for a second straight trip to state in the week ahead. Last year he was the Section 1A runner-up at 189 pounds, and he went 0-2 at state, losing a pair of 7-0 decisions.

"I was proud just to get there, considering I got such a late start in wrestling, in the seventh grade," he said. "But once I was there, it motivated me to do better."

Gomez worked hard in the off-season, lifting weights and attending wrestling camps. He also overcame arthroscopic knee surgery in September, which repaired a small tear in his meniscus tissue.

Beyond this season, Gomez said he’d like the chance to wrestle in college. He wants to become a veterinarian.

"It’s weird to think about going off to college and leaving my family, but that’s what they want for me," he said. "I’ll never be able to thank my parents enough, for the sacrifices they made and the opportunities I’ve had."

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