Team begins battle for top spot

Olivia Wilber, staff writer

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Grabbing his opponent, senior Logan Jiminez battles a wrestler from Heights Dec. 6 in the KMC gym. The wrestling team beat Heights 76-6 in their second dual of the regular season. The team’s first dual was a 58-15 win at South Dec. 1. photo by John BiehlerAfter placing second in City League last year, the wrestling team expects to come in first this season, senior Damon Steiner-Martinez said.
“The seniors and I have some big shoes to fill, but I believe with the amazing coaching staff we have, we will be able to lead the team to a City League title,” Steiner-Martinez said. “I want more than half my team to qualify for state, and I personally want to place at state.”
Nine-year assistant coach Jacob Klein will be taking the place of former head coach Tim Dryden, who coached at KMC for 20 years. Steiner-Martinez said he is nervous but excited for the change.
“Having a new coaching staff is a little weird after going through three years with the same coaches and then switching it up,” Steiner-Martinez said. “With Jake Klein as our head coach, everyone will be pushed to their limits with tiring practices and morning weights.”
Steiner-Martinez qualified for state as a junior, but lost in the blood round, or semifinals, by one point to Mill Valley’s Zack Keal. Sophomore Miles McMahon and junior Brecken Phipps also qualified for state last year.
“I started on varsity, which was a big deal to me as a freshman because that’s not seen often in this sport,” McMahon said. “I took second in City League… I qualified for state and went 2-2, but lost in the blood rounds. Qualifying was a big achievement in itself, although, I was able to place.”
The team lost only once during the regular season last year to South. With former leaders Michael Spangler and Kevin Mills having graduated, the team will see new faces like freshman Bubba Wright, winner of the 2018 Kids State at 85 pounds.
“My goals this year are to make varsity, win City League, and hopefully win state in my division,” Wright said. “But more importantly, I’m here to help my team.”
To prepare for the season, the team had training over the summer and went to preseason nationals where everyone did “fairly well,” McMahon said. Wright went to tournaments around the country to get ready for his first high school season.
“There’s no secrets to being better,” Klein said. “Put in the work to get your hand raised. The team shows up ready to work hard every day. We have a bunch of athletes wanting to make a difference and leave their mark on the sport.”