Drew Romero will take a lot away from his first trip to New York City.
And it had nothing to do with visits to the Statue of Liberty or the 9/11 memorial site.
He also made it to another Big Apple landmark, Madison Square Garden, for the NCAA Wrestling championships. The former Broomfield Eagle, by virtue of his conference finish, earned a trip to the national championships as a 125-pounder for the Air Force Falcons.
"I think a lot of people didn't see me doing as well as I did, I only won one match, but that was a big match for me that will set me up pretty good for next year," said Romero, who was vacationing in Hawaii. "Every match is a dogfight and every point you have to earn. Every match is different because everybody wants to win and you really have to earn your points."
Romero, a sophomore who entered the tournament with a 17-17 record, drew fifth-seeded Ryan Millhof of Oklahoma in the opening round and was beat 6-0.
It didn't get much easier for him when he dropped into the consolation bracket. He faced 12th-seeded Paul Petrov of Bucknell, who was upset in the first round, and made the most of his second chance to get something out of his trip.
Romero rolled to a 9-4 victory over Petrov, a win that will have a ripple effect on not just Romero, but maybe the Falcons team as a whole.
"All the experiences and lessons I learned in New York, I plan on taking that back with the team and sharing it with them. Hopefully it inspires them to get better and do more," said Romero, who was pinned by Cornell's Dalton Macri in the next consolation round. "While you are there, it is just way more exciting and I already want to get back on the mat and train for next year. And as (the team) gets better, I'm going to get better too."
Romero, who finished as a state runner-up as a senior at Broomfield, wasn't at all overwhelmed by the Madison Square Garden stage. Still for someone that has wrestled all over the country for a long time and under some serious pressure, the atmosphere of the national championships was unrivaled.
"I've been in a lot of big tournaments, but nothing can really can compare to it. It was kind of like the state tournament, but on steroids," he said. "It's college, so it definitely matters a bit more too. Plus it is way harder."