Perhaps one day, Bakersfield senior Bryce Martin will realize that he accomplished something special Saturday in the CIF State Wrestling Championships in Rabobank Arena.
He placed second in state at 170 pounds, losing only to one of the nation's best wrestlers in Anthony Valencia of Bellflower-St. John Bosco.
But in the aftermath, Martin wasn't ready to think about all that.
"It's always better when you win, and it always hurts to lose," said Martin, who dropped a 14-4 major decision to Valencia. "In the future, maybe I can think about it like that, but it hurts right now."
Martin was one of three Drillers who finished in the top eight of their weight class, earning them each a state medal. The others were 106-pound freshman Navonte Demison, who took third, and 120-pound junior Carlos Herrera, who was sixth. As a team, BHS finished 10th. Clovis won its record fourth straight state title.
Valencia, a junior who won a 126-pound state championship as a freshman and took second at 145 last year, is ranked No. 3 nationally by Intermat. He took Martin down just once in the first period, but he added three in the second period and three more in the third, trying moves that were increasingly risky and spectacular.
"I just wanted to stay solid, stay low," Martin said. "He's got a great shot, he's very explosive."
Many of Valencia's opponents spend six minutes trying not to get embarrassed, but Martin wrestled him fair.
"I liked how he wrestled me," Valencia said. "I'd still always like to see more -- less space, more chances to attack."
A couple of times, Valencia tried moves so spectacular -- like a "flying squirrel," in which he jumped over Martin's shoulders in an attempt to tackle him from behind -- that an alert Martin nearly ended up with takedowns of his own. But each time, Valencia used his quickness to scramble out of the way and set up another attack.
"He's fast, and he's strong and quick," Bakersfield coach Andy Varner said. "Valencia is one of the best high school wrestlers I've ever seen. He's a man."
But so is Martin, who is 19 and will wrestle for Indiana next year.
"It wasn't his night tonight, but I know what he's capable of," Varner said. "He's got a great work ethic, and he's going to close that gap. The kids a worker. He has a heart the size of Alaska. That's what makes him so great.
"... A lot of people would just expect Valencia to beat them, but you can tell from the disappointment and heartbreak in Bryce's voice that he expected to win."
And ultimately, Martin was able to put things in perspective -- even in the aftermath of disappointment.
"It was fun," Martin said. "It's always fun wrestling in your hometown, and this was great to have so many people supporting me."