Kentwood siblings take aim at state wrestling history

  • BY Wire Service
  • Friday, February 20, 2009 7:15pm
  • Sports
On the verge of history: Today could prove an emotional one for Ruben Navejas Sr.

On the verge of history: Today could prove an emotional one for Ruben Navejas Sr.

Their opportunity is legit.

It’s all a matter of taking advantage of it for Kentwood High’s wrestling Navejas siblings — brother Ruben, a 103-pounder, and sister Antonia, one of the nation’s best at 152 pounds.

If all breaks right during today’s Mat Classic XXI at the Tacoma Dome, Ruben and Antonia will become the state’s first-ever brother-sister combination to win a title in the same year.

“There’s always a lot of pressure when you’re predicted to hit a double state title between your brother and sister,” said Ruben, who took fifth at last year’s state tournament. “We’ve talked about it. It’s a really big year. She has a really good shot and I have a really good shot.”

If the Navejases are going to accomplish the feat, now’s the time. Though Ruben, just a sophomore, likely will have two more cracks at a state championship, Antonia is a senior. She won the title as a sophomore and took second at state last year.

“It’s a pretty big deal,” said Antonia, who currently is the top-ranked 152-pounder in the state and is ranked No. 5 in the nation. “No one has done it.”

That fact that the Navejases are so close is reason for pause.

As a freshmen last year, Ruben proved to be one of the Valley’s fastest-rising stars, entering the state semifinals with an unblemished 39-0 overall record.

He finds himself in similar position this year. Though not perfect, he entered the first round of the state tournament on Friday with a 34-2 overall record. Those losses both came to top-ranked Bryce Evans of Rogers-Puyallup, whom Navejas has beaten once this year.

The two standouts are on opposite sides of the bracket and are expected to meet in the finals, slated for 5 p.m. today.

Despite the outlook, Ruben remains cool as ever.

“I just plan to go out and wrestle one match at a time,” he said.

Meanwhile, Antonia is the favorite to win it all — and an overwhelming one at that. She entered the tournament on Friday with a perfect 19-0 record and is 94-20 for her prep career. In addition, Antonia pinned her way through sub-regionals and regionals the last two weekends.

But just like her younger brother, Antonia remains cool under pressure.

“I’ve pretty much been training all offseason and during the season for this,” she said. “My goal right now is to finish my senior year to go undefeated with a state title.”

The Navejas siblings will have family from around the state on hand at the Tacoma Dome this weekend.

But things remain in perspective, even for dad, Ruben Sr., who has coached both kids all their lives.

“I’m not nervous,” the proud father said. “I’m very excited to see both of them produce the way they have this year. Both of them work very hard to be where they’re at. It’s a big commitment by our whole family, not just them, for them to wrestle at the level they’re at.

“Both of them are ready to step up to the plate.”

And, if all goes as planned, make a little state history.

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