Find Peter Santos walking around the Oakmont High School campus and he's a shy, humble and thoughtful young man who sports a mile-wide smile.
"He's nice to everyone," said Oakmont wrestling coach Justin Castrillo, "and treats everyone equally."
Santos' dad, Peter Sr., said his son is "very humble and very shy. He will remember you and thank you for a piece of gum you gave him two weeks ago."
Get the senior on the mat and he turns into a fierce competitor who, according to Castrillo, is "scary to look at."
That juxtaposition is what sets Santos apart so much that Castrillo calls him "one in a million."
Santos, who won the CIF State Championship at 170 pounds Saturday, is The Bee's 2012-13 Wrestler of the Year.
Already a two-time Masters champion and two-time All-Metro first-team selection, Santos has gone from a 125-pound freshman to a 170-pound state champion, even if he is "walking around at 158 pounds," according to Castrillo.
At 5-foot-11, Santos looks every bit a chiseled, well-put-together athlete.
For the past 14 years, Peter Sr., a former wrestler at Benicia High School, has been his son's coach, mentor, father and friend.
"All of my life," Santos said. "It's been big having him there with me along the way. But when I was a kid, I hated it. But as I got older, it grew with me and I started just needing him there with me."
Their relationship now is as fascinating as it is heartwarming.
When Santos defeated No. 1 state-ranked Corey Griego of Sultana of Hesperia for the state title, he raced to his dad.
"Peter Sr. has been a blessing to Peter," Castrillo said. "Those two are very close."
Said Peter Sr.: "That's the third-happiest day of my life," behind only the births of Peter Jr. and his younger brother, Mitchell.
In the back of both father's and son's minds that day was Peter Sr.'s uncle, Enrique Rojas, who passed away after a long battle with heart problems just two days before the state meet.
A month earlier, Peter Sr. said, his uncle had been given just a few days to live. But he survived longer than expected, the family believing he was holding on for Santos' state title run.
"I think so," Peter Sr. said, reflecting on who he called the patriarch of the family. "He knew about Peter and he was asking about him."
Santos said he, too, felt his great-uncle was with him in spirit during the two-day tournament at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield.
"It was definitely a big part of my motivation," Santos said. "I wanted to win, but that gave me a little bit more motivation."
Peter Sr. and Castrillo believe the composure Santos has as an 18-year-old, his humility and the family bond helped him stay focused during the tournament while grieving for his great-uncle.
"Peter is very level-headed, and he knows what was ahead of him and only used what happened to fuel him," Castrillo said. "He's going through the grieving process and is very thankful for his uncle being a part of his life."
Santos, who went 45-2 this season, will compete for a national title in April. One week later, he will sign his letter of intent to wrestle at North Carolina State.
For someone with a birthday in December, it seems Christmas will come a little early this year.
Said Santos: "This is exactly how I wanted to finish out my high school career."
Wrestler, year, school, weight, record
Senior, Sheldon, 285, 42-5
He started the season 19-0 and finished with 37 pins - while not getting pinned.
Senior, Nevada Union, 138, 50-4
A repeat first-team pick, he won his second Masters title before losing in the third round at the state championships.
Senior, Ponderosa, 285, 20-4
Did he cut the beard to make weight? Regardless, the Fresno State football commit had a linebacker-like mentality.
LORENZO DE LA RIVA
Sophomore, Folsom, 145, 50-11
He finished sixth in the state and quickly is becoming one of Folsom's all-time greats.
Junior, Folsom, 160, 57-3
The Masters champion was state runner-up to the No. 2-ranked wrestler in the nation at 160, Isaiah Martinez.
Senior, Franklin, 285, 49-8
The unsung heavyweight made it through four rounds to finish fourth at state, the same finish he had at the Masters.
Senior, Natomas, 220, 46-7
The four-time state qualifier finished sixth at the state tournament after winning his second Masters title.
Senior, Oak Ridge, 170, 40-5
The three-time Masters runner-up was injured and couldn't compete at state. He will continue wrestling at Stanford.
Senior, Elk Grove, 285, 47-7
The Masters winner told coach Pat Coffin to "get the ink ready" for his name to be etched as one of the Herd's greats.
Senior, Ponderosa, 182, 51-3
Built like an ox, he won his first Masters title this year and finished fourth at the state tournament.
Senior, Bella Vista, 126, 36-6
A repeat pick for the first team, he had a tough early-round loss at state but battled back to finish fifth.
Senior, Bella Vista, 152, 43-4
He's a two-time state runner-up, a four-time state qualifier and a three-time Masters champion.
Senior, Elk Grove, 195, 32-3
He had a fantastic state tournament, losing in the championship, after finishing third at the Masters.
Joey Banks, senior, Franklin, 182
Isaac Blackburn, junior, Del Oro, 106
Curtis Booth, freshman, Folsom, 106
Ethan Brewer, freshman, Sheldon, 113
Sean Brown, senior, Granite Bay, 126
Jordan Colby, senior, West Campus, 195
Alex Elko, freshman, Jesuit, 132
Sam Fowler, senior, Bella Vista, 160
James Gomez, junior, Woodcreek, 120
Troy Grossi, senior, Vista del Lago, 145
Brandon Matu, senior, Antelope, 138
Devon Nooner, senior, Folsom, 170
Trae Providence, junior, Ponderosa, 152
Zach Ruybal, sophomore, Del Oro, 120
Tristan Scott, junior, Elk Grove, 106
Josh Villaflor, sophomore, Franklin, 120
Johnny Zieour, senior, Del Oro, 138
Marion Ward, senior, Monterey Trail, 182
- Trevor Horn
Coach of the Year: MIKE LEE, Bella Vista
The Broncos won the Capital Valley Conference and Sac-Joaquin Section Division II titles, finished sixth at Masters and 17th at the state championships. Three of Lee's wrestlers competed at state, and two won medals.