By Rubin E. Grant
In the days leading up to the 64th AHSAA State Wrestling Championships, Homewood senior Carlos Miguel Figueroa’s dad mentioned something to him that hadn’t crossed his mind.
“My dad mentioned to me that if I won, I would have won state titles in three different weight classes,” Figueroa said. “I never really thought about winning in three different weight classes. My main focus when I step on the mat is to do my best.”
Figueroa did his best and then some, pinning all four wrestlers he encountered to win the Class 6A 220-pound title last Saturday at Von Braun Center’s Propst Arena in Huntsville.
In the championship match, Figueroa pinned Helena’s Nathan Dunaway in 3:18 to finish the season undefeated with a 59-0 record.
“It was business as usual,” Figueroa said. “I give all the glory to God. He took care of business for me.”
For Figueroa, it was his second undefeated season in three years. He was 27-0 as a sophomore when he won the 182-pound crown. He had a 61-1 record as a junior when he captured the 195-pound title.
“He’s been quite a champion,” Homewood wrestling coach Eddie Crocker said. “He focuses on wrestling year-round, not just during the season. He focuses on it when he gets up in the morning and when he goes to bed.
“He doesn’t get distracted. He has a girlfriend and he works some, but he doesn’t let that prevent him from doing what he has to.”
The reason Figueroa trains so hard is that he’s never satisfied with his accomplishments.
“I always want to be better,” he said, “because there’s always something I can work on to be better.”
According to Crocker, what separates Figueroa from other wrestlers is his fearlessness.
“He’s undaunted in his drive to win and compete,” Crocker said. “He’s not afraid to lose. He thrives off the challenge.”
Following in His Brothers’ Footsteps
Figueroa’s family moved to Alabama when he was 5 years old from the state of Sonora in Mexico, just south of Arizona. He took to the mat because his older brothers Carlos Daniel Figueroa and Carlos Jesus Figueroa were wrestlers.
Miguel Figueroa started practicing wrestling in the fourth grade and joined the Homewood Middle School team in the seventh grade. As a freshman at the high school, he was the 182-pound state runner-up, posting a 38-2 record.
Then, the next year he started his run of three consecutive state titles. When Miguel Figueroa was a sophomore, Carlos Jesus, then a senior, also won a state title, claiming the 195-pound crown.
“I don’t know how to describe it when both of us won,” Miguel Figueroa said. “It was a crazy experience. That’s what we set out to do, and then to go out and achieve it was amazing.”
This year, Carlos Jesus has served as an assistant coach, mainly because of Miguel.
“I needed somebody with a big body to train with Miguel, so I asked his brother to be my assistant coach,” Crocker said. “I had two sophomores and a freshman to practice against Miguel, but they were not really a match for him.”
Miguel Figueroa liked having his brother to go against in practice.
“The one thing he taught me is toughness, being physical,” Miguel Figueroa said. “He tries to beat me up. He doesn’t hold back.”
Miguel Figueroa is not a chiseled athlete. “He doesn’t look like he’s fit, but he doesn’t get pushed around,” Crocker said.
Figueroa relies on strength, quickness and relentlessness, often wearing down his opponents before pinning them. He recorded more than 50 pins this season.
“I just try to do what I need to do to win,” he said.
Figueroa has dreams of being a national champion. In hopes of fulfilling his dream, he will be competing in the NHSCA High School Nationals March 29-31 at Virginia Beach, Virginia, and in the Disney Duals June 19-24 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.
He also plans to wrestle in college. He has offers from Newberry College in South Carolina and Gardner Webb University in North Carolina.
“I’m exploring every opportunity,” Figueroa said. “I’ll probably decide where I’m going some time in April.”
In Class 7A, Hoover finished second, Vestavia finished third, Spain Park finished sixth, Oak Mountain finished eighth, and Mountain Brook finished ninth.