By Keith McShea
Injuries may have shortened his senior season, but the legacy of Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer as one of Western New York's greatest high school wrestlers of all-time is more than intact.
Rodriguez-Spencer, a senior at Cheektowaga who will wrestle at national power Iowa State next year, is the Prep Talk Player of the Year for wrestling.
The 2012 state champion went 38-0 with 27 pins before a knee injury ended his senior year just prior to the postseason. He was the champion at tournaments at Spencerport, Palmyra, Cheektowaga as well as the Niagara Frontier Wrestling Officials Association tournament and the ECIC Championships (where he hurt his knee).
His career record was 188-13 with 97 pins, graduating with school records for most wins, most wins in a season (we went 47-0 last year) and was second in career pins (84 to 2009 grad Jared Messina's 104).
After the season, Rodriguez-Spencer was able to compete -- to say the least -- at the National High School Coaches Association tournament in Virginia Beach, Va., where he won a second straight national title and became the first wrestler in the history of the tournament to earn multiple Most Outstanding Wrestler honors.
He defeated Niko Villareal of Gilroy High in California in overtime, 8-6, in the 145-pound final this year. Last year he earned national attention by winning the junior tournament in the final seconds with a "flying squirrel" move.
Last year I did a story -- which is accompanied by a great graphic designed by Andrea Zagata -- on Rodriguez-Spencer's "flying squirrel" move and his career to that point.
He appeared on PrepTalkTV this year to discuss his career and his future at Iowa State (videos embedded below).
* * *
All Prep Talk Players of the Year will be honored at the inaugural Prep Talk Awards on June 16 at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, featuring Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Reed and Janet Snyder of Kiss 98.5. The Prep Talk Awards will honor Prep Talk Players of the Year in more than 30 sports, along with the All-Western New York first teams in football and basketball.
* * *
Our Countdown to the Prep Talk Awards will feature a different Prep Talk Player of the Year each day until the June 16 event.
Continue reading "Prep Talk Player of the Year for wrestling: Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, Cheektowaga" »