In the record books there will be a winner and a loser after Wilson and Long Beach Poly’s wrestling meet on Thursday afternoon. It will show that the Bruins defeated the Jackrabbits, 36-29 at Ron Palmer Pavilion.
What the records won’t show is the countless smiles that filled the Ron Palmer Pavilion as athletes from both teams were able to compete in an event that was just wishful thinking less than a month ago when the future of indoor high school sports was still uncertain.
“Three weeks ago, I didn’t think this was going to happen,” said Wilson senior Griffin Hunt, who defeat Poly’s Declan Joyce via pin at 160 pounds. “I think it got to everyone at some point— even myself where it’s like ‘What’s the point?’ You’re kind of just sitting there waiting around for something to happen, something to change and time’s running out. Fortunately, I got a call from my coach and just right away had to get on everything and get back to work.”
Getting back to work wasn’t an easy feat as coaches had to scramble to get all athletes cleared which was a hurdle that included: hydration tests, physicals and COVID testing.
“We spent a long time in maybes, kind of hopeful maybes,” Wilson coach Seth Wegter said. “Because every week, every couple weeks they’re like maybe you guys will have a season. So, to finally get it that close to when we had to compete was super exciting. It was nice to know I still had a team that was dedicated.”
For Poly coach Ken Lee, he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to field a team with athletes and parents undecided on whether to compete this season.
“It’s been crazy. When they told me we were going to have a season I didn’t believe it,” Lee said. “I told my kids and they were unsure. I thought it was so close to where we were going to throw in the towel and forfeit this season because we’re not going to have enough wrestlers… but my wrestlers came together and they all supported each other, they all encouraged each other to go and wrestle.”
One of those Jackrabbits was Jeremy Lavery who defeated Adrian Alvaraz in the 126-pound bout.
“These last couple weeks it’s been pretty crazy,” Lavery said. “Especially for me, I’ve kind of been in the dark more than my teammates and so they’ve been more updated because I haven’t been as in touch with the team. But, I had about two weeks (to practice).”
While some athletes were scrambling to prepare for the season to start, Wilson’s Cordae Jones was chasing quarterbacks for the Bruin football team two weeks ago. Jones defeated Poly’s Demetrius Barber in the 220-pound weight class.
“I had a lot of doubts about this season, even football season,” Jones said. “We didn’t really hear from CIF or anybody. It was exciting to hear we’re back.”
This year will be different for the Moore League as only Wilson, Poly and Millikan will field wrestling teams this season. The CIF also announced there won’t be any CIF individual championships, but there will be a team event.
The top team out of the three Long Beach schools will compete at CIF.
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