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WRESTLING: Santiago a Roosevelt constant (PHOTO/TOUT VIDEO)

A standout since his sophomore season, Quentin Santiago wants to go out in style

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After three upset wins and a sixth-place finish at the 2012 wrestling state finals, then-sophomore Quentin Santiago decided to hang onto something as a reminder of his success.

The standout Roosevelt grappler, who is now ranked among the state’s best as a senior, kept the uniform he wore that weekend and has donned that same one-piece for every competition since.

“For every match, I wear the same singlet I wore when I placed at states my sophomore year,” he said. “No one expected me to place at states and I came out of nowhere and beat two seniors and beat a returning state placer in the blood round.”

Clad in the same outfit, he returned to the Palace of Auburn Hills last year and placed there once again, finishing in the eighth spot. Along the way he put up a 43-6 record during the season, won individual league and district titles and took second place at regionals.

This season, Santiago has wrestled to an impressive 40-1 record and is ranked No. 4 in the state in Division 1 and No. 11 overall at 152 pounds, according to Michigangrappler.com.

So far, the Bears’ team captain has already repeated easily as both a league and a district champ in the 2013-14 campaign. Yesterday, the senior was set to compete at the Division 1 regionals in Woodhaven to try and earn yet another trip to the individual state finals.

Like many of Downriver’s top prep wrestlers, Santiago’s path to success began several years ago and has involved participating in the sport outside of the high school season.

“He has put a lot of time in wrestling,” said Roosevelt Coach Brett Greene of his captain. “He has been wrestling since he was eight years old...Throughout his high school career he has attended and competed in numerous offseason tournaments.”

While it’s well-established that Santiago is talented and extremely tough to beat in competition, Greene said that one particular skill he’s developed really stands out.

“He has always been a great wrestler,” Greene said. “His ability to tilt and put opponents on their back has always been very impressive.”

As a coach, Greene said that having someone of Santiago’s caliber on his squad helps to make everyone else around him better, as well.

“It brings up the competition level in the room, especially for our young guys,” Greene said. “They need to see what it takes to be at that level.”

The leadership role on the team is one that Santiago said he’s been more than happy to embrace this season.

“I usually start the practice and get everyone warmed up and stretched,” he said of his daily duties.

“I was the only captain on the team this year and a lot of the kids on the team were freshmen and sophomores and I usually talk to them about my past experiences when I lost to motivate them and help them stick through the sport.”

Unfortunately for the Bears, the squad was eliminated by Edsel Ford in the first round of Division 1 team districts on Feb. 5.

At individual districts, held three days later, two of Santiago’s teammates placed fourth or better and moved on to regionals with him, as Collin Vargo (135) won a district title and Colton Thompson (125) took fourth in his weight class.

Despite the attention Santiago’s received from those in the state’s wrestling community, he said that so far he hasn’t received an offer to continue on with the sport in college.

Santiago, who has a 3.4 grade point average at Roosevelt, said that an option he’s considering for next year is to walk on to the wrestling program at Michigan State University.

One thing that could make those at the collegiate level take more notice might be a state title this year.

If the senior advances out of individual regionals this weekend, he’ll compete two weeks later for the Division 1 crown at 152 pounds in Auburn Hills.

“Being a state champion is a tough road,” his coach said “He is one of the five front runners for the state championship in his weight class, where on any given day that top five can change. He has his sights set to that level and it will be fun to watch.”

Last Updated: 2/14/2014 4:48:51 PM EST