CYPRESS — While his friends were hanging out after school, Noah Gochberg was in the gym.
His sacrifice paid off in a big way.
The Vandegrift freshman capped off his first year in the high school wrestling ranks with a state championship, running through the 113-pound division of the state wrestling tournament and beating Allen junior Gabe Martinez 7-6 in the championship match on Saturday afternoon.
“It was a grind,” Gochberg said. “I’ve wrestled youth for a long time and this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But having trust in your program and truly believing in what your coaches tell you, that’s the key to getting through it.
“I appreciate the massive support that I had and everybody being on my team.”
Gochberg finishes the year with a 53-3 record and won via pin six times in his 11 matches in the district, regional and state tournaments.
He pinned Robert Caillet from Keller Timber Creek in the first round and beat Harley Williamson from Euless Trinity via sudden victory in the first overtime period on Friday. He pulled out a close, 1-0 decision against Arlington Martin freshman Jaden Two Lance in the semifinals on Saturday morning.
“I’m just excited for him,” Vandegrift head coach Paul Muck said. “He’s just a freshman but he’s been wrestling for a long time so a lot has gone into this. It’s cool to see the kids be successful and see them achieve their goals.”
He won the title with an aggressive and gutsy performance.
After getting a two-point takedown in the first period, he continued to build his lead in the second. Even with a lead in the second period, he continued to attack and extended his lead.
Martinez picked up two points for a takedown with a few seconds left in the match, but Gochberg had built up enough of a lead that it didn’t affect the end result.
“I just like to keep the pressure on them and I never want the pressure to be on me,” Gochberg said. “Doing that makes them think, ‘This guy is nonstop,’ and it’s way easier. They start to open up more.”
Other than Gochberg, Luke Sloan was the highest finisher from Vandegrift, taking fourth place in the 126-pound division. Vista Ridge freshman Aaron Lofton finished in third place in same weight class after beating Sloan 2-0 in the consolation final.
Vandegrift won the district and regional team titles for the third year in a row. Gochberg was one of five Vipers wrestling at the state tournament. As a team, they finished ninth overall with 40 points.
“We work hard with the kids and the culture we’ve created brings them up with expectations that they’re going to be on the state podium,” Muck said. “This is Noah’s state championship, but it’s also for the entire team and it’s cool that they all get to celebrate it.”
Gochberg doesn’t want this to be his only trip to state.
“I’m going to sit back on this relax for a little bit,” he said. “Pretty soon, it’s going to be time to get right back at it. Just 365 days until the next state tournament.”