When Windsor’s Dominick Serrano says one of his goals is to become a four-time state champion wrestler, even though he hasn’t yet wrestled a varsity match, it’s not a matter of someone who doesn’t know better.
He knows what’s realistic.
After all, one of his training partners is Will VomBaur, the Windsor wrestler who won a state title earlier this year as a freshman.
When the two squared off earlier this year at a tournament outside of school-sanctioned competition — the Rocky Mountain Nationals — Serrano won 7-0.
“He’s the real deal,” Windsor Middle School coach Gary Mauch said.
Serrano is spending part of his summer competing in various tournaments. He was in Virginia Beach this past weekend, with trips to Indianapolis, Wisconsin, Dodge City, Kansas, and Cape Cod also on his schedule.
Besides local and Colorado connections, he also competes for a team based in New Jersey.
Naturally, his aspirations are high.
“I want to try to be a four-time state champion in high school,” Serrano said. “I’ve been working really hard with my practice partners (including VomBaur). After that, hopefully I can wrestle in college and then go to the Olympics in freestyle.”
Again, don’t misinterpret what Serrano says as being brash or arrogant.
“Anybody who is that good usually has a little bit of cockiness in him,” Mauch said. “But Dominick isn’t that way. He’s just a humble kid. He goes out there and tears everybody up on the mat, then he gets off the mat and he’s the nicest kid in the world.”
That’s all by design, the 120-pounder said.
“I don’t like to be a hated guy,” Serrano said. “That upsets me. Seeing all those guys just showing off their abilities … you can tell what you’ve got. (That’s why) I let my wrestling do the talking.
“I choose to be humble. I like to be that kid who everyone likes.”
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Serrano already has two state championships to his name during youth competitions, winning titles in seventh and eighth grades. Last year, he won his first national championship. Now he’s about to embark on what he hopes is a legendary high school career.
He’s not the only area wrestler who emerged from the middle school scene with his eyes on the prominence of a four-peat. Poudre’s Jacob Greenwood, who will be a junior in the fall, did the same, and has won state championships as a freshman (126 pounds) and sophomore (132 pounds).
Serrano said he’s actually cutting down on his tournament schedule this summer, focusing on training and on bigger tournaments. He practices twice a week, runs every day and lifts weights with the football team.
He’s a 120-pound running back.
“My parents have always told me that weight isn’t an issue,” he said. “You’ve just got to be fast so you can run away from them.”
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Next year, he said, rather than wrestling on the freestyle circuit in the spring, he’ll play baseball.
“He’s just a natural,” Mauch said. “He’s one of those kids who is good at everything he does.”
Serrano said that he wasn’t all that good at wrestling when he started out at age 5 of 6, but that he enjoyed competing.
“I just loved going to practice,” Serrano said. “There was just a connection to it right away.”
Besides losing a close match as sixth-grader in the semifinals to a Denver-area wrestler, Serrano had only been beaten by VomBaur in middle-school competition, and the relationship between the two young stars is a good one.
“He used to beat me back in sixth grade, and I started picking it up in seventh grade,” Serrano said. “But we still practice together. He gets me and I can get him. But that doesn’t affect our relationship. We still go fishing together, play paintball together.”
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Knowing that you are already as good, if not better than, a state champion before entering high school can give a wrestler confidence, perhaps too much confidence. But Serrano is staying grounded.
“I’m still going to keep trying,” Serrano said. “I’m not going to let up just because I’ve beaten a state champion. There’s always going to be a person who can come beat you. I’m not going to take it easy. I’m just going to keep going and working hard.”