By MARG JACKSON
Though two Cougar wrestlers made it all the way to the State Meet, their magical season ended there short of the medal stand. Both grapplers, seniors Kyle Jimenez (120 pounds) and Cameron DuBois (160) were at the prestigious event for the first time in their high school careers and head coach Derek Scott said there definitely were some nerves coming into play.
“We struggled there,” Scott admitted. “It’s almost where, to have a chance to be successful there, you probably have to qualify your junior year, go once to gain that confidence and experience, then go back as a senior.”
Neither Jimenez or DuBois made it to state last year so they had all the nerves and inexperience of competing at that elite level confronting them as they took the mats in Bakersfield on Friday, March 4, the first day of the two-day tournament.
“Kyle looked pretty ready to go, he just had a bad draw in his first match but was competitive,” Scott said.
It didn’t get any easier for Jimenez in the second round, as he exited the State Meet after an 0-2 showing.
“Cameron just had a hard time getting going, you could tell there were nerves, it was the first time he had been in something like that,” Scott explained of DuBois. “You’re already nervous and then these guys are on you, scoring points right away.”
The formula wasn’t one DuBois dealt with effectively, and he too bowed out after going 0-2 in his weight class.
Despite the early exit for both his wrestlers, Scott said their tough trip to state in no way minimizes the success they had this season and what they meant to the Cougar wrestling team as a whole.
“Both kids had a great season; they really worked hard to get to where they were at,” Scott said. “And because of their hard work, they both have an opportunity at furthering their careers, keep wrestling in college.”
The coach also pointed out that neither wrestler was ranked coming into the year at the Section level and both placed at every tournament they attended except the state meet. Each was a Divisionals champion and finished high enough at the Masters Meet to get to State.
“Without those guys we’re not achieving anything this season,” Scott said. “They were leaders and they led us to a Section title.
“It’s the end of a long season, everything was extremely successful, and I want to thank all of those that helped us out.”