Atascadero High 160-pound wrestler Seth Burchfield has had to deal with an immense amount of physical and emotional pain in the past year.
He tore the ACL in his left knee during a practice drill in January 2014, and after rehabbing the entire offseason following surgery in February, made it back to the mat to compete his senior year.
“It was definitely a fear,” that it would be career-ending, Burchfield said, “but I’m glad it was my junior year and not my senior year, so I had some time to recover.”
He recovered in time for the season but soon was dealt an even bigger blow.
Two days after his pin helped the Greyhounds win a crucial PAC 8 dual against rival Paso Robles on Jan. 20, Burchfield’s father, Randy, who introduced Seth to the sport and had been his coach since fourth grade, passed away unexpectedly at the age of 46.
Yet Seth Burchfield rose out of the rigors of physical therapy and the emotional toll of losing a loved one to end his high school wrestling career with his most successful season.
He finished second in his weight at the divisional tournament and fifth at the CIF-Southern Section Masters meet, to join three other San Luis Obispo County wrestlers at this week’s CIF state meet.
Burchfield admitted that not too long ago wrestling was the farthest thing from his mind, but now it’s helping him recover.
“It shook my foundation with wrestling,” he said. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to come back. “But especially during this postseason, his passing has really given me something that helps me stay calm and do what I need to do.”
Teammate Karson Block, Paso Robles’ Oscar Covarrubias and Arroyo Grande’s Chris Maez — all seniors — will join Burchfield at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield starting Friday.
“I’m glad we have more wrestlers,” said Block, a 195-pounder who was the county’s lone representative at last year’s state meet. “After the league season, once you get to CIF, Masters and state, it’s not just about your own school — it’s about the league you’re from.”
Block went 4-2 at the Masters meet, winning his first two bouts before being pinned by eventual champion Tristin Sutton of Hemet. Block won twice more in the consolation bracket to place seventh.
“Honestly, you’ve got to forget about (losing) as soon as it happens,” he said. “You can’t dwell on it.”
Maez, who transferred from Morro Bay, had to do the majority of his work in the wrestlebacks after a 15-6 second-round loss to eventual runner-up Leangelo White of Western.
The 182-pounder reeled off three straight victories in the consolation bracket — all by fall — before two defeats gave him eighth place.
“Wrestling is a mental sport,” said Maez, who was a match away from qualifying for state as a junior. “I just had to keep my composure, and basically take it one match at a time.”
Covarrubias also is wrestling in a new singlet this season, having moved from King City to Paso Robles.
He compiled a 2-4 record at the state meet as a sophomore and junior out of the Central Coast Section, but said the move to the Bearcats’ wrestling room has him most confident about this trip.
“I’ve been working a lot harder and this is a much better team,” the 113-pounder said. “There just wasn’t enough coaching (at King City). There was only one coach and he was a good coach, but he couldn’t do it all on his own.
“It was a smooth transition coming here. It was like I was already a part of the team.”
Pairings are available on the CIF State website. Covarrubias will open against Clovis West’s Javier Alaniz, with the winner facing Mission Oak’s David Campbell. Burchfield will face Pleasant Valley’s Cameron Matzen, with the winner drawing Lindhurst’s Edgar Rivera. Maez opens versus Golden Valley’s Julio Fuentes, and whoever wins wrestles Isaiah Weathers of Florin.
Block went 3-2 at the 2014 state tournament and wrestle Austin Flores of Clovis North to open this year’s bracket.
Whether he’s in the first bout, fighting to stay in the tournament or a win away from the podium, Block said the mindset has to stay the same.
“Every match you’ve got to be ready,” he said. “I remember last year watching a kid seeded second that got pinned in the second period. Anything can happen.”