The rest of Adrian Godinez’s classmates at Foothill High School had graduated months prior, but the Fresno State wrestling commit was stuck in summer school trying to get his last few classes in line.
He knew it was going to be “very close” and thought some classes would be adjusted to fulfill requirements. Then around of the last day of his summer classes he found out the news he had been fearing.
Godinez fell half-a-credit short of being academically eligible for Fresno State, he said, and a waiver submitted on his behalf was not completed in time.
“(I thought) everything was going to fall together, but it happens,” Godinez said. “I’m not blaming nobody but myself. I did make some mistakes in high school and I just got to learn from them.”
Not making it to Fresno State led Godinez back home to Bakersfield College, where he’s a freshman wrestling in the 184-pound division. He’s the No. 1 ranked wrestler at his weight among California junior colleges and placed first at BC’s most recent meet on Oct. 21. He’s determined to make it to the Division I level he’s missing out on.
“If he gets his grades on track, does what he’s supposed to here and we can get him out of here in a couple years, I think the future is bright for him,” BC head wrestling coach Brett Clark said.
Godinez was a force in high school as a two-time medalist at the CIF State Wrestling Championships and a two-time BVarsity All-Area first-team selection. He finished his senior year with a 34-8 record.
But it was a career also plagued by injuries. His sophomore year, he suffered a fracture and torn ligaments in his knee. He originally hurt the knee months before going to the doctor and combatted the injury with a knee pad. When a doctor diagnosed the injury after the state tournament, she didn’t understand how he was still walking, he said.
Senior year, it was a badly sprained ankle suffered at the Central Section Yosemite Divisionals. He cried on the van ride back to Foothill, thinking his season was over. Trainers told Godinez he would be out for a month. But he came back the next day to qualify for the state championships and limped onto the medal stand with an eighth-place finish.
“I worked too hard to just give up on myself,” Godinez said, regarding the ankle injury. “It really hurt me the first day because I thought I was done. … If I could place at state with a sprained ankle I could do anything to be honest.”
Godinez’s ankle is still taped up from that injury in April and not fully healed, he said, but he’s put the same determination used to overcome injuries toward making it back to the D-I level he was close to being at.
He’s eating healthier — mostly dry chicken with seasoning and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich if he’s lucky — and running more. He feels faster and more agile at the 184 pounds he’s wrestling at this season compared to the 197 he wrestled at several months ago.
It’s not just self interest that is pushing Godinez to continue his wrestling career after Bakersfield College at a higher level. He sees his teammates who have no higher aspirations than BC and wants to inspire them to pursue more.
“It is kind of a bummer being here because it wasn't my first plan, but I think I can influence a lot of these guys,” Godinez said. “... Hopefully seeing me make it will help everybody else have the motivation to make it too.”
When Godinez didn’t qualify for Fresno State, the coaches there told him they weren’t going abandon him, he said. After his two first place finishes at the last two tournaments, the Fresno State coaches texted Godinez, he said, to congratulate him and they still check in to make sure his grades are in order.
His plan is to spend two years at BC and then finally reach Division I.
“That’s where I’m supposed to be,” Godinez said. “That’s where my talent should be.”
Jon Mettus can be reached at 661-395-7389. Follow him on Twitter at @jmettus.