Last March, Elk Grove High wrestler Martin Ramirez placed third in his third trip to the CIF State Championships in Bakersfield. He was fifth the season before. The senior began this season ranked No. 1 in the state at 126 pounds. In the most recent rankings by thecaliforniawrestler.com, he was third in the state at 132 and No. 1 in the Sac-Joaquin Section.
The days of flying below the radar don't exist in this Internet age. As a result, Ramirez and other highly regarded wrestlers go through their seasons in the spotlight.
"Every tournament I have a big target on my back," Ramirez said. "Everybody wants to beat the best, and they go extra-hard against me. I have to keep my head, I can't underestimate anyone."
Ramirez began wrestling as a first-grader in a junior program. He said he's been thinking about his senior year "since I was a little kid. To go out as a state champion is still my goal."
Ramirez (30-3) continues that quest Friday at the two-day Division I North Divisional Championships at Ponderosa High.