Gilroy junior Nikko Villarreal has climbed to the pinnacle of high school wrestling.
The three-time Central Coast Section champion is a two-time state champion, winning his second title this month.
For his achievement, he is the Mercury News wrestler of the year.
Villarreal's victories in his two state title matches were memorable. In 2012 as a sophomore, Villarreal pulled what some have termed the biggest upset in the history of the California state finals, coming from behind in the closing seconds with a move observers at the meet called "the throw heard 'round the world."
The throw in the 132-pound final defeated Alex Cisneros, who was attempting to become the first wrestler in state history to be a four-time state champion.
What made that historic accomplishment all the sweeter was Villarreal's freshman season having come to an end with a one-sided loss to Cisneros in the state quarterfinals.
Villarreal won a second state title this year with a 3-1 win over Riordan's Elijah Davis at 138 pounds on a takedown with five seconds left in a rematch of Villarreal's heated triple-overtime 3-2 win over Davis at the CCS finals.
Davis had some uncomplimentary words for Villarreal after that CCS match, so the memory of that incident made the win at state all the more satisfying.
"The important thing for Nikko was keeping his head, keeping his cool and not getting caught up in smack talk,'' Gilroy coach Greg Varela said.
So what does Villarreal do for an encore as a senior? "To go undefeated is my big goal," Villarreal said. "And of course I want to win state and CCS again."
The Gilroy wrestling dynasty has had a wealth of outstanding wrestlers in its 11-year run as CCS team champion. Villarreal could be the best to come out of Gilroy by the time he's done.
"We've had one other two-time state champion in Martin Gonzalez," Varela said. "Nikko wants to be an NCAA champion, wants to be an Olympian. Some people call him a natural, but those people don't realize how hard he works.
"He's such a special kid, a great role model. On the mat he's so aggressive, but off the mat he's very humble. He does community service, fundraisers, he gives his medals to little kids."
Follow Glenn Reeves on Twitter at twitter.com/GReeves23.
Jimmie Lopez, Christopher, junior
Jesse Vasquez, Gilroy, sophomore
Isaiah Locsin, Live Oak, junior
Victor Olmos, Gilroy, junior
Paul Fox, Gilroy, junior
Nikko Villarreal, Gilroy, junior
Zac Contreras, Riordan, senior
John Sinclair, Pioneer, senior
Grant Biral, Pioneer, senior
Joseph Lowman, Half Moon Bay, senior
Arthur Georgiyev, South San Francisco, senior
Chandler Ramirez, Archbishop Mitty, junior
Graham Grant, Saratoga, junior
Gary Miltenberger, Fremont, junior
Alvin Nguyen, Silver Creek, junior
Elias Hernandez, Serra, senior
Sean Summers, St. Francis, senior
Eric Cramer, Gunn, senior
Jerry De La Rosa, Serra, senior
Elijah Davis, Riordan, senior
Shane Triantos, Mitty, junior
Gerhard Hohbach, Palo Alto, senior
Brandon LeFore, Sobrato, junior
Mark Penyacsek, Gilroy, sophomore
Henry Wei, Saratoga, senior
Sean Lydster, Gunn, junior
Jairo Rocha, Overfelt, senior
Jairo Granados, Santa Teresa, senior