Former South Tahoe star wrestler Herrera earns award at San Francisco State
Andrew Herrera, a 2017 South Tahoe graduate, has navigated through some rough waters in his short time at San Francisco State.
The two-time high school wrestling state champion has discovered competition is a little more fierce at the collegiate level.
He’s used to being the aggressor. He’s used to winning, to being the champion. And being on the opposite end feels exactly how it looks — no fun at all.
“It’s humbling for sure,” Herrera said in a phone interview with the Tribune. “I’ve never been dominated by an opponent before. It’s been rough for me.”
But recently he saw dividends from all of his hard work in the classroom and on the mat.
Herrera was named Wrestler of the Week in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
The 197-pounder earned decisions in a pair of duals and claimed first place in the Menlo Open by winning three matches, by decision, major decision and fall.
“The award, it was awesome, surprising and kind of scary,” Herrera said. “It put a little target on my back for sure. But I kind of needed that to get my confidence. It was an eye opener to see what’s possible, to see what I can do.”
Hererra was born and raised in South Lake Tahoe and first got into wrestling at age 10 while attending Tahoe Valley Elementary School.
He remembered being inspired after watching South Tahoe High School meet where 2012 graduate Tyler Nesbitt dominated an opponent.
Herrera wrestled all four years in high school and found more inspiration in coach Ryan Wallace.
“Coach Wallace had me set some goals early,” Herrera said. “He was definitely my leader and someone I looked up to. He had cancer when he was 17 or 18 and had to make some tough decisions. He’s awesome.”
Wallace said he had to get better as a coach, and wrestler, due to Herrera’s ability.
“All of the kids who have, and will, come through the wrestling program are direct beneficiaries of Andrew,” Wallace said.
Herrera made mincemeat of opponents throughout his high school career. He qualified for the state tournament in all four years and was champion as a junior and senior. He was fourth his freshman year and third as a sophomore.
“He was physically explosive and powerful and combined that with unrivaled willpower,” Wallace said. “Late in close matches Andrew had an unrivaled ability to dig deep and draw from an energy source that is just unavailable to most guys.”
Herrera earned the Ryan Couch wrestling scholarship worth $1,500 per semester.
Herrera took a semester off before enrolling at SF State and redshirted that second semester.
He’s now a redshirt freshman for the Gators and had a 7-6 record after the Menlo Open.
“In high school, some guys were pretty good and then there would be others that weren’t so good,” Herrera said. “Every single match here is hard.”
Herrera says the key to getting better is listening to his coaches. He attributes his success at the Menlo Open to taking in what the coaches were telling him.
“My coaches Ryan Loder and Jason Welch have really helped me and work with me a lot,” Herrera said. “I just need to listen and then do it. So far it’s been a journey.”
After college, Herrera wants to return to Lake Tahoe, the place he loves, and use his criminal justice education.
“Maybe I can go back and start as a copper,” Herrera said, “and see where it goes.”