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Sac-Joaquin Male Athlete of the Winter: PETER SANTOS
- Updated: May 2, 2013
Two years after dedicating himself solely to wrestling, Oakmont’s Peter Santos is a state champ.
Nearly three years ago, Peter Santos committed to a singular focus and goal. The multi-sport athlete decided to hang up the pads and put away the balls to commit to one sport and one goal.
After an early loss at the state high school wrestling tournament as a Woodcreek High sophomore, Santos told his father that he was committing to wrestling and winning a state title.
“On the ride home from Bakersfield, he told me he was quitting football because he wanted to win a state championship in wrestling,” his father, Peter Sr. said. “He put in a lot of work, stayed the course, and reached his ultimate goal.”
As an Oakmont High senior, Santos captured the 170-pound title at the 2013 CIF State Wrestling Championships under the spotlight in the center of Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield. He defeated Corey Griego of Sultana 4-3 with a late reversal to cap a successful high school career and justify his dedication to wrestling.
Upon making his commitment to a single sport, Santos transferred to Oakmont and began practicing and participating in tournaments across the state and country in order to prepare for his chance to shine on the ultimate stage.
“The entire atmosphere was suspenseful and exciting,” Santos said. “It’s amazing to be up there under the lights. And this year, they had the most people attend the finals ever.”
His nerves were no doubt calmed by the presence of his wrestling coach of 14 years who also happens to be his father. Their father-son bond was developed in the home and on the wrestling mat, and reached its apex when the pair embraced after Peter’s hand was raised as a state champion.
“I’m still on Cloud Nine and it’s been more than a month now,” said the senior Santos, who wrestled and played football at Benicia High before coaching both sports.
Sports and family have long been staples in the Santos household, and Peter Sr. and his son realized that a separation between their father-son relationship and coach-athlete relationship was necessary for success on and off the mat.
“Family has always been everything,” Peter said. “We have been doing this for years, so it was relatively easy to make sure that when we are in the wrestling room, it’s all about wrestling, but when we are at home, it’s all about family.”
The Santos family bond will be stretched in August when Peter leaves to attend North Carolina State where he will continue his wrestling career with the Wolfpack on scholarship. It will mark the first time in their lives that Santos Sr. will observe his son as a spectator and supporter rather than as a coach and mentor.
Peter will miss his father’s presence and guidance, but is already focused on his next commitment.
“I believe in my coaches and wrestling partners, and have faith in them that they will help to make me a great college wrestler,” he said. “I expect to dominate.”
— Jim McCue
THE SANTOS FILES
THE STATS: Santos posted a 45-2 record in his senior season, and added his first state title to go his two league, division, and SJS Masters championships.
SIGNATURE PERFORMANCE: Santos scored a two-point reversal in the final seconds to break a 2-2 tie with Sultana junior Corey Griego in the 170-pound state final. He allowed Griego to escape for one point to ensure the narrow 4-3 victory.
COLLEGE DESTINATION: North Carolina State
FAVORITE WRESTLER: “There are a lot of guys that I tried to learn from, including John Smith and Jordan Burroughs (both world and Olympic champions). I like to watch them wrestle on their feet.”