Athlete of the Week: Poway High's Cervantes goes out a winner

Senior Stevie Cervantes, right, finished third in the state at 170-pounds for the Titans. Photo by Robin Simmons
Senior Stevie Cervantes, right, finished third in the state at 170-pounds for the Titans. Photo by Robin Simmons

By Michael Bower

Hard to imagine Stevie Cervantes once hated the sport he has so much passion for now as a senior at Poway High School. But it’s true. At 7 years old, Cervantes wanted nothing to do with wrestling.

“I did not like it,” he said. “It was too demanding and I was not very good at it so I didn’t like it.”

It appeared he would never step foot on a mat again, but with his brother, Sammy Cervantes, succeeding as a grappler at Poway High and then moving on to the Naval Academy, Stevie realized wrestling could be his ticket to something bigger, too.

“Once I hit eighth-grade year going into my freshman year, I knew I wanted to go to the academy,” he said. “And I knew wrestling was where I could start my training. I started to fall in love with the sport and I became motivated thanks to my brother, coaches and family.”

Cervantes dedicated himself to the mat room from that point forward and it paid off in a huge way. He recently verbally committed to Army, where he will continue his wrestling career and be part of the United States Military Academy at West Point.

“I knew I wanted to go to an academy and the Army was contacting me and showing a lot of interest and it made me want to go there,” said Cervantes, who added he has also been in touch with the Naval Academy. “I know the Army is a program that is building up and I want to be a part of it.”

The Army is getting quite a grappler and young man. Cervantes is very well-mannered, constantly using the terms “sir” and “thank you.”

He is also extremely humble; in fact, he mentioned his coaches, family and friends several times when talking about what got him to where he is today.

“The gave me all the support,” he said. “I could never have done it without them. And I picked a good group of friends that kept me out of trouble. Everything around me is keeping me on track.”

Cervantes did his part on the wrestling mat. After finishing seventh in the state as a junior, he came back even stronger with a third-place finish in the 170-pound class at last week’s state tournament in Bakersfield.

For his efforts, Cervantes is the Pomerado News Athlete of the Week.

Naturally, Cervantes was disappointed he did not win the state title, especially since a questionable ruling in the quarterfinals cost him the match.

Cervantes was down 4-3 to Sultana High’s Corey Griego with 10 seconds left. Cervantes thought he scored a reversal or at least an escape to tie the match, but was not awarded any points.

“It was a bad call and I just wanted to put my head down for the rest of the tournament, but my coaches wouldn’t let me,” he said. “I was really mad about it because the guy I would have wrestled in the semifinals I already beat four times this year. I ended up wrestling him in the third-place match and beat him again.”

Cervantes had to wrestle four matches on the second day of the tournament to earn third place. He won them all, and even took a few moments after his final high school match to take it all in.

“It was an emotional time for me,” he said. “I saw my mom in the stands after the match and her eyes were watery and it got me a little emotional like that.”

“I am happy with the way things ended up,” he added. “I felt good with the way the season ended.”

   
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