When St. Peter’s Prep shocked the high school football world in 1994, defeating the No. 1 team in the country, Bergen Catholic, in the Parochial A North state championship game at Giants Stadium, the Marauders had a mighty mite of a fullback from Jersey City named Mike Medrano, who looked more like a longshoreman than a high school senior and excelled at his position, despite standing only 5-foot-3.
Medrano then went on to have a fine career at Monmouth, helping that program get off the ground, leading the Hawks in rushing one year. He then went on to finish his career at William Paterson. After graduating from William Paterson, Medrano went on to become a mobile response official, working with behavioral health, out of Trinitas Hospital in Elizabeth.
But the competitive drive in Medrano never subsided.
“After college, I tried to play in the Arena Football League a couple times, but they always said I was too small,” Medrano said. “I always did the most with what I had. But I loved training and I loved working out.”
One of Medrano’s friends recommended that maybe he should look into the world of mixed martial arts.
“I thought I could give it a try,” Medrano said.
So he went to the camp of Billy Scott, a renowned MMA trainer based in Toms River. Scott is the one who turned Frankie Edgar, a former standout high school wrestler from Toms River, into one of the rising stars of the Ultimate Fighting Challenge league.
“Every day, I’d go straight from work and then go to train for three hours every day,” Medrano said. “I became addicted to it.”
Medrano then found himself going to ju-jitsu tournaments and once he won one, he was totally hooked.
“I went from there into the cage, first as an amateur,” Medrano said.
Medrano had a fine 8-3-1 record as an amateur as a cage fighter, then turned pro under the guidance of Rhino/MMA in Toms River.
“Trainer Mike Constantino was working with me,” Medrano said. “I kept training and fighting. I didn’t care how big the opponent was. It wasn’t the size of the person. It was the size of their heart and I have a big heart.”
Since turning pro and staying at the 155-pound weight class, Medrano has posted a 9-9 record, fighting in the Caged Fury series that frequents the Atlantic City casinos. Medrano lost his last bout to John Ortolani in a third round decision on the Bound for Glory card in Lincoln, RI last month. He was slated to enter the cage Oct. 22 at Resorts International in Atlantic City, but the bout was postponed.
“I love being in shape and love working out,” Medrano said. “This is the best chance I have to get to either Strikeforce or the UFC.”
So the former football star is finding life inside a cage.
Did Medrano ever imagine that he would become a professional MMA fighter?
“Honestly, when I was in high school, I was recommended that I should get into boxing,” Medrano said. “I was going to the PAL to learn how to box, but my mom didn’t want me to be more aggressive. She didn’t want me fighting. But it’s given me more discipline. I’m more mature now [Medrano is now 33 years old]. Coming into this sport was the best thing for me. I have the right mentality now.”…
The NJSIAA state sectional cross country championships are slated for this weekend, but many of the local participants won’t be headed to Garret Mountain in Woodland Park, like they have every year since 1965.
That’s because last Saturday’s snowstorm made Garret Mountain Park unavailable, with hundreds of trees down, not to mention power lines. So the North 1 sectionals will be held now at Thompson Park in Jamesburg instead. That will certainly upset the cattle cart for a lot of the local runners, who have become accustomed to the course at Garret Mountain…
The snow also postponed the Hudson County Soccer Tournament semifinals in both the boys’ and girls’ divisions for another week…
Hudson Reporter H.S. Football Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (5-3). 2. Union City (6-1). 3. North Bergen (5-3). 4. Bayonne (6-2). 5. Hoboken (7-1)…
Hudson Reporter H.S. Soccer Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (17-1). 2. Union City (9-10-1). 3. Bayonne (9-8). 4. North Bergen (9-11). 5. Ferris (6-10-1)…
Congrats to Marist baseball coach Ron Hayward, who received word that he’s being inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame. Hayward was a standout player at the school and became the head coach a few years ago. Hayward and the other inductees, including the 1992 state championship basketball team in its entirety, will be honored Nov. 19…--Jim Hague Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.