Tony Andrade doesn’t lack for confidence. But the Gilroy High senior knows the difference between being confident and cocky, and he plans on never crossing that line. After all, wrestling is a sport that demands humility, and for good reason. Perhaps no other high school sport demands more out of a student-athlete than wrestling.
Take it from Andrade, who in the fall starred at defensive end for a Gilroy High football team that won the program’s first-ever Central Coast Section championship with a storybook 13-0 season. It wasn’t too long after before Andrade had to take his skills to the mat.
“Football is a little more violent, and there are some big collisions,” he said. “But wrestling is the ultimate grind, where everyday you have to overcome some sort of obstacle to reach your goal.”
The state runner-up last year in the 195-pound division, Andrade plans on finishing the deal in his final high school season. Currently ranked third in the state, the 6-foot Andrade blends agility, power, strength, technical skills and ever-improving stamina to dominate most of his opponents.
Andrade also possesses tremendous mental toughness and match awareness, as he suffered only a handful of losses—and just one via pin—last year despite facing several nationally-ranked wrestlers. Andrade lost to the Nos. 1 and 2-ranked wrestlers in the state earlier this season, but he’s far from worried.
After all, Andrade is still not in peak shape after the football season extended into the first weekend of December.
“I’m trying to get in my groove,” he said. “Every week I’m increasing my conditioning and my wrestling skills.”
Three weeks ago, Andrade took second in the Temecula Valley High Tournament. At one point in the third period, Andrade could barely feel his arms.
“My endurance wasn’t there,” said Andrade, who two weekends ago ran roughshod in the Overfelt Tournament, winning every match via pinfall en route to the 195-pound title. “So this week to prepare my arms I did burnouts on the bench with dumbbells to get my arms conditioned.”
Before the Temecula Valley Tournament, Andrade competed in the equally loaded Doc Buchanan Tournament in Clovis.
“I needed a little more gas in the tank, and I should be there by Mid-Cals,” he said. “I’ve been doing a lot of extra work so I can catch up. I’m trying to grind through the season and get over the hump.”
That’s exactly what Andrade has done throughout a solid wrestling career that includes two Monterey Bay League championships and last year’s CCS title. On the gridiron, Andrade has been equally ferocious. During the Mustangs’ dominating playoff run—they beat every opponent by at least 18 points—Andrade totaled eight sacks.
Andrade wasn’t even sure he was going to play this past season after undergoing surgery for a torn ACL on his birthday, May 2. Unsure whether he wanted to give it a go or prepare early for wrestling season, Andrade said he asked his teammates if he could return to the team for the Christopher game.
“I really missed it and wanted to be with them,” he said. “I asked them if it would be cool to come back, and they welcomed me with open arms.”
Andrade has exhibited plenty of toughness in his athletic career, especially during his junior year. Andrade suffered the second of his two ACL tears—the first came in his sophomore year—during the wrestling season. However, Andrade marched on, all the way to the state finals.
“I just had to wrestle; I couldn’t miss another year,” he said. “It wasn’t too bad. Plus, the doctor told me I have a strong leg. I didn’t shoot at all during the state tournament, probably three times total. But I had a good gas tank, I positioned myself well and wrestled to my strengths.”
Andrade said he has made a verbal commitment to wrestle at Oklahoma State University, while also noting he needs to complete a math class to meet the academic requirement of admission.
“I’m probably going to sign at the end of the school year,” he said.
Andrade will be a heavy favorite to repeat as CCS champion and make a deep state run. He envisions returning to the state championship match, only this time there will be a different outcome.
“I didn’t do that well (in the title match),” he said. “I guess I got a little shell shocked because I had never wrestled in that big of a scene. I learned I need to just go out there and let it fly. I kind of froze up a little bit, and this time the difference is going to be the experience factor.”
Indeed, wrestling at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield can be a bit daunting for first-time state finalists. When Andrade came out of the tunnel to the main stage, he had never been so nervous for a match.
“When I was up on stage, I usually stretch my arms and look up,” he said. “This time when I looked up, I saw thousands of people looking at me. I was like, ‘Oh dang.’ Then in the match I didn’t let it fly and didn’t wrestle my best against a great opponent. If I get another chance, I’m going to let if fly.”
Andrade received a first-hand look on what it takes to win a state championship. When Andrade was in the eighth grade, he vividly remembers watching then Gilroy High senior Paul Fox completing incredible workouts—after practice. Fox is currently wrestling at Stanford, having garnered 2017 All-American honors.
“Paul would run, do pushups, lift—this guy did crazy workouts after practice,” Andrade said. “He’d go a straight hour doing pull-ups, hangs, climbing the rope, doing bench press on his neck. He kind of taught me how to outwork everyone. He was the guy who showed me the light.”