BLOOMFIELD — In February, Bloomfield senior Troy Rightmire capped off his high school wrestling career with team and individual state championships.
On Wednesday, Rightmire decided to continue wrestling when he signed with Bacone College in Muskogee, Okla.
Rightmire, who was a captain on the Bobcats' team and had a 34-4 record this past season, said it was always a dream of his to wrestle in college.
"I'm really glad. I was sad when the season ended, and it looked like I wasn't going to be able to do any college wrestling," he said. "It felt like I was losing a piece of my life, but now I've got four more years of it."
Rightmire said he was surprised when he learned Bacone wanted to sign him.
"I got a call to the office one day, and I was scared and thought, 'Oh man, am I in trouble?'" he said. "They handed me a letter from Bacone athletics, and it was the wrestling coach wanting to talk to me about wrestling."
Rightmire was one of two individual champions for Bloomfield this year, along with Levi Whitley. Rightmire won the 3A 145-pound title, defeating Shiprock's Raygen Charley 2-1 in the final.
The Bloomfield senior gradually improved at the state meet each season with the Bobcats. He finished in fifth place as an eighth grader, fourth as a freshmen, third as a sophomore and second as a junior, before finally winning a title as a senior.
Rightmire's hard work and leadership in the wrestling room were key factors in Bloomfield winning its first team title since 1984, said head coach Greg Shoemaker.
"It finally paid off for him. He's worked hard from eighth grade all the way through," Shoemaker said. "He always tries to do his best, and he's got a big heart. He always seems to come through when he needs to."
Bacone competes in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics against schools across the Midwest.
Bacone routinely faces Wayland Baptist University at tournaments and dual meets. Three Piedra Vista wrestlers have signed with the school in Plainview, Texas, over the past two years, and Rightmire said it will be fun to see familiar faces during next year's college season.