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ASU wrestling's Richard Figueroa begins prep for competition domination ahead of 2022 season

The former Selma High School standout is looking to make headlines after a successful redshirt season last year


Redshirt Freshman Richard Figueroa does a flip during practice on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022, in Tempe.

From an early age, redshirt freshman Richard Figueroa has been interested in combat sports. He found a love for wrestling after a short stint in mixed martial arts, sparking a path that would lead him to become the No. 1 pound-for-pound recruit in the country. 

A product of Selma High School in California, Figueroa comes from a talented wrestling family. His sister, Gracie Figueroa, wrestled at Selma from 2015 to 2018, is a powerhouse wrestler in her own right.

In her senior season, she was the first woman to win UWW Cadet and UWW Junior National titles in the same weekend. She was declared the best pound-for-pound girls' wrestler in the nation at the FloWrestling Who's #1 tournament after she defeated Macey Kilty, a Cadet national champion, 6-4.

Gracie, a four-time California state champion, committed to California's Menlo College where she was named an All-American after the 2019-20 season. 

"We push each other to the limits. We know how to set our triggers off and just have it competitive. And at the same time, we always make each other better," Richard said. "She is a four-time state champ in California, so she's legit."

In 2020, Selma High School was ranked the fourth best wrestling team in the state of California according to TCW California Wrestling Rankings. Richard thanks the school for allowing him to travel to new places and for molding him into the wrestler he is today.

"They're so supportive. They're like a family. And I just would always support them no matter what," Richard said. "I became who I am today because of them."

Unfortunately, Richard's senior season occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, ending the Figueroas' bid to become the first brother-sister duo to win four California state titles when the state tournament was canceled.

Despite the cancellation, Richard held his head high and set his sights on making the world team.

"I just kept on going, set it aside, and wanted to accomplish more," Richard said. "If I couldn't get a state title, I would try to make a world team, and that's what I did."

Richard went on to win silver in the 48 kg class at the Cadet World Championships in 2018, adding to his list of accomplishments.

Despite the slew of schools striving to add Richard to their roster, his decision was between ASU and the Ohio State University. 

After multiple college visits and recruitment attempts by OSU wrestling commit, Paddy Gallagher, Richard chose to stay close to home and rep the maroon and gold.

"I want my mom and family to be able to travel with cheap stuff, so I did it for my parents," Richard said.

Since arriving in Tempe, Richard has won bronze at the 2021 Junior Pan American Games and has competed in three open tournaments, going undefeated in each. 

"Figs loves working," said assistant coach Lee Pritts. "He comes in and trains at a high pace, trains at a high level, and is very dialed in and focused on getting better every workout."

After redshirting last season, Richard is itching to compete. With the help of his coaches, he aims to build his name and become the best 125-pound wrestler in the world. To do that, he will need to make the world team, a feat not many collegiate wrestlers accomplish.

"I really believe Richard Figueroa will be there eventually. I think he's a guy that could make a world team as he continues to develop," said head coach Zeke Jones. "He didn't come here just to be the best in the country, he came here to be the best in the world."

The only Sun Devil wrestler to compete at the 2022 UWW Senior World Championships in Serbia this year was Cohlton Schultz, who lost in the 1/8 final to U23 bronze medalist Oskar Marvik.

READ MORE: Cohlton Schultz is ready to be 'the dude' for ASU Wrestling

After losing in the first round at UWW Junior World Championships in Russia to Ali Gholi Zadegan Koloukhi of Iran last season, Richard will have his work cut out for him.

Richard will get his first chance to showcase his talents this season at the Journeymen Wrangle Mania against Rutgers in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania on Nov. 12 at 5 p.m. MST. 

Edited by Kathryn Field, Piper Hansen and Grace Copperthite.

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Aayush Gupta

sports reporter

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