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Advised to forego his senior season after suffering a devastating knee injury, Central Valley High School wrestler Mike Tubera resisted and made a triumphant return to the mat.

Tubera captured the Valley Oak League 121-pound title, finished third at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championships and posted a 1-2 record at the Masters Meet.

"If it (the knee injury) didn't happen, I would have went a lot further," he said. "But it didn't stop me from doing what I did."

"He had a good attitude about it," Hawks coach Joe Stewart said.

Tubera injured his left knee while training at Central Valley's practice facility before the season started.

"My doctor said it might be best to sit out the season," Mike said. "I really didn't want to do that. A week after the injury, I was back in the wrestling room exercising and doing what I could do."

Tubera had surgery on on Jan. 11.

"I had two tears in my meniscus," he said. "They took a middle piece out and put gel in."

"December and January were tough months for Mike," Stewart said. "I'm just glad he got the opportunity to wrestle."

Tubera missed a month of training.

On Feb. 9, Mike claimed gold in front of his home fans with a second-round pin of Oakdale's Kevin Butler at the VOL championships. The tournament was held at Ceres High School, Tubera's former school.

"I've never won league before," said Mike, who had to settle for runner-up honors twice in the past. "I wanted it so bad."

At Divisionals in Sacramento, Tubera dropped his first match by decision. Then he reeled off four straight wins by pin, stopping Colfax's Joe Procopio in the second period for third place.

"I was feeling strong," Mike said.

Tubera's season came to an end at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet in Stockton on Feb. 21. He needed to finish in the top seven to advance to the California Interscholastic Federation State Wrestling Championships. Mike amassed a 1-2 record.

"I've achieved lots of my goals except state," he said.

Mike placed fourth at Divisionals and in the VOL, and qualified for Masters as a junior.

Tubera spent his freshman and sophomore years at Ceres High School.

In 2006, he placed second in the Modesto Metro Conference and finished 2-2 at Divisionals in the 112-pound weight class.

Tubera took second in league and qualified for Divisionals at 119 pounds during his freshman year.

"I had a pretty successful career," he said. "I'm satisfied."

Mike also became a better student. He earned a grade point average of 3.8 the last semester of his junior year. His GPA hovered around a 2.0 the previous two years.

"I got good grades just so I could wrestle," Tubera said. "Nothing else really mattered."

Mike took up wrestling at Blaker-Kinser Jr. High School.

"I just like the fact that it's not a team sport," Tubera said. "All the pressure is on you. There's nobody to blame for the losses. All the victories are yours."