Anthony Herrera is one of the most decorated athletes in the brief history of Stansbury High School, winning a Class 4A state wrestling championship at 138 pounds as a senior in 2018 before moving on to wrestle collegiately.
His success on the wrestling mat didn’t end when he left Tooele County, however. Earlier this month in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Herrera established himself as one of the top junior college wrestlers in the country, finishing fourth at 157 pounds and earning Honorable Mention All-America status during the National Junior College Athletic Association Wrestling Championship.
“It’s not really a surprise to me,” Stansbury wrestling coach Tyson Linnell said. “I knew he had the potential to do great things. His ceiling to get better is just so high, and that’s what college coaches like. I knew sending him to college, the sky was the limit for him. It was just a matter of putting it together.”
Herrera opened the national tournament with an 8-3 decision over Jayden Johnson of Thaddeus Stevens (Pennsylvania), and pinned Spencer Head of Mercyhurst North East (Pennsylvania) at the 4:08 mark of his second match. He fell into the consolation bracket after a 7-2 loss to Jonny Towbridge of Northeast Oklahoma, but rattled off three consecutive wins after that: a 13-3 major decision over Sebastian Robles of Northeastern (Colorado); a pin against Dallas Boone of Neosho (Kansas); and an 8-6 win over Iowa Western’s Chance Fry.
Herrera lost to Towbridge in the third-place match 6-3. That brought his successful redshirt freshman season at Western Wyoming Community College to a close, but also fuels his fire for his second season of competition at the Rock Springs, Wyoming-based school.
“I have one more year at Western, and I already have a handful of coaches talking to me,” Herrera said. “Since earning All-America honors, hopefully more coaches will offer me something. I’m going to focus on what’s ahead next season, and see what comes after that.”
Herrera credited Linnell and his experience wrestling at Stansbury High for helping to prepare him for the next level.
“Everything I learned here (at Stansbury) has carried over to my college experience,” he said.
“It’s like I tell some of these high school guys – there hasn’t been a thing I’ve learned or done in high school that I haven’t done in college. I think it was a really nice transition thanks to Tyson (Linnell) and all the other coaches for helping me get to this point. I wasn’t coming into college unprepared. I knew what to expect.”
Linnell, who wrestled with WWCC coach Art Castillo in college, said he knew Herrera would be successful at the next level. He said that every time Herrera is in town during a break from school, his presence in the SHS wrestling room serves as an inspiration for the next generation of Stallion grapplers.
“Last year, we went down to the U.S. Open, a big (Las) Vegas tournament, and he was walking out – I don’t know if he’d just got done working out – and my little boys and a couple other little boys saw him and, ‘Anthony!’ They went running over to him,” Linnell said. “He comes back over Christmas break and helps coach and helps in the (wrestling) room. Now the kids know that anything’s possible – if Anthony can do it, anybody can do it.”
Herrera said his success comes as a result of having a strong work ethic, which he hopes will rub off on Stansbury wrestlers for years to come.
“To these kids, I just say, ‘you set a goal and you work your hardest toward it, and amazing things can happen,’” he said. “I’ve definitely improved since eighth grade and my freshman year, but it’s all the same – it’s all hard work and dedication that’s gotten me to this point.
“When I was a freshman coming in, I never would have expected it to come this far,” he added. “Looking back to my role models in high school, they played a huge role in my growth and my experience. I hope I do the same thing with becoming a state champion and having my name all over the boards in the wrestling room – I just hope it inspires them to do something great, too.”
Linnell is excited to see what Herrera does on the mat in the years to come.
“I hope he moves on and keeps wrestling,” he said. “He’s good at it and obviously, that’s showing. It’s going to open up all sorts of doors for him, so I’m excited to see where the future goes with him.”