It was just a dream, until it wasn't.
Fountain Valley High's Trenton Ching could not fall asleep last Saturday night. His mind was busy, retracing his steps on the long road to accomplishing his high school athletic goal.
Ching had come home a CIF Southern Section individual wrestling champion.
"It almost felt unreal," Ching said of winning CIF. "I had trouble falling asleep because I was just thinking about it all night. At times, I wasn't sure if that was even possible. I was hoping to at least make it to Masters."
The senior posted four victories by fall with one decision in taking the 160-pound title in the Southern Division finals.
Ching had never qualified for the Masters meet, a reward for the wrestlers that place in the top five in their weight class at CIF finals. A big reason for that was that Ching was not a full-time member of the Barons' varsity roster until his junior year.
A lower-level start was necessary for Ching and his twin brother, Chanson, who were first introduced to wrestling after they had arrived at Fountain Valley.
Throughout his career with the Barons, Ching spent too much time on his back for the coaching staff's liking. He lived on the edge, but he was able to pull out the close matches.
"He's never really been that guy who is blowing everyone out of the water, but he has always been that kid that finds a way to win," Barons assistant coach Matt Keefer said. "He wrestled a lot of those younger matches because he knew what he could do and had time to experiment to see what worked for him."
Following his sophomore year, wrestling became a serious matter for Ching. He rededicated himself to the sport, getting up for morning practices before school. Ching bulked up to 160 pounds, and all of the extra work paid dividends this year.
As a senior, Ching secured several firsts for his high school wrestling career. This year also marked the first time that Ching had won a Sunset League individual crown.
After Ching rallied from his back to pin Oxnard Pacifica's Tim Brown in the 160-pound championship bout at CIF finals, he pointed skyward in jubilation. The coaching staff joined in, taking particular satisfaction in the fact that this was a title-winning wrestler that was born and bred through the Fountain Valley program.
"He was like that proof that our program expects excellence, and not only that, but we can create excellence," Keefer said. "It was a very satisfying victory. Trenton was a very dedicated wrestler.
"I took a personal satisfaction because he was a kid that came up to you and asked what he could do to get better on a daily basis. He found a way to get in the room and get the workout and get the knowledge. He just strived for that CIF championship."
Ching was the most surprising of the Sunset League's four CIF individual title winners based on pedigree alone. Edison's Elijah Palacio and Jared Williams each had section titles under their belt and had reached the state meet. Teammate Max Wilner had been wrestling since elementary school.
When he found out that he was the top-ranked wrestler in the Southern Division at 160, Ching received the spark he needed to cross the finish line.
"[Assistant coach Daniel Woiwor] showed me on his phone that I was ranked first in CIF," Ching said. "I was super surprised. That changed my mindset.
"It got me motivated to keep working harder to actually become the CIF champion. Knowing that I was the first seed, it did get me to work harder."
All four of Fountain Valley's Masters qualifiers were first-timers. Jacob Taub, a senior 170-pounder, placed fifth at CIF. Dylan Zotea (126) and Wilner (145) were both freshmen.
For Taub, it was important that seniors like himself and the Chings continued tradition by extending the Barons' team league title run. Fountain Valley's streak now stands at seven.
"It means a lot," he said. "It's something that we think we should be doing every year. We're just excited to push on the legacy from our freshman year, watching all the seniors, and just continuing to do what they did."
Born: Jan. 25, 2000
Hometown: Oahu, Hawai'i
Height: 5 feet 9
Weight: 160 pounds
Coach: Brad Woodbury
Favorite food: Ribeye steak
Favorite movie: "Gladiator"
Favorite athletic moment: Ching saw the culmination of four years of hard work come together last Saturday when he won the 160-pound title of the CIF Southern Section Southern Division wrestling championships at Brea Olinda High. In his own words, he was "stoked" to complete his high school goal.
Week in review: The senior was the top seed in the 160-pound weight class of the CIF Southern Division finals. He made it stand up, recording four pins and a decision en route to his first CIF individual title.