Plenty of solid area performances highlight Rumble for the Rig wrestling tournament

·4 min read

Dec. 4—There were no team or individual champions at Saturday's Rumble for the Rig wrestling tournament at North High, but this early in the season, area coaches are just fine with that.

It was a point of emphasis for second-year Bakersfield High coach Adam Fierro, whose Drillers hosted the event at North High due to a scheduling conflict at BHS.

"It's early, so we just tell our guys to go out there and try to score points," said Fierro, whose team finished fifth in the event and had the only two finalists among area teams. "You're trying to score for six minutes, they're getting after it."

South and North also finished in the top 10 among the 20 teams, placing seventh and ninth, respectively, in an event that featured state powers Clovis-Buchanan, Clovis North, Temecula Valley and Concord-De La Salle, who finished in the top four in the team results.

"They wrestled well," Fierro said of his team. "And when they do that and try to get points on the board it allows us as coaches to know what we need to work on next. I'm proud of these guys. We had a really good competition here against some of the top teams in the state. So it was a good test for us, early."

The Drillers' two runner-ups included freshman Aiden Simmons, who lost a 7-3 decision to another freshman, Kingsburg's Leo Macias at 113 pounds.

"I try to do better every single tournament I go to," Simmons said. "At practice, I work with my partners. I want to perform well in front of everyone. I feel like I have good stamina and I can move pretty good. The hard work paid off. I just have to keep on working hard in practice and stay focused."

His Bakersfield High teammate, sophomore Michael Murillo, also had a strong showing in reaching the 195-pound final. Murillo's title hopes were dashed early when Buchanan's Keanu Trelles gained control early and posted a pin 55 seconds into the match.

"The focus is never just winning wrestling matches," Fierro said. "It's getting better at the sports, at this craft and just stressing to our guys to try to be the best wrestlers that they can. I'm proud of them. They did well. It was a good test, and I'm excited for the next one."

Three different area wrestlers bounced back from a semifinal loss to place third in their respective weight classes.

North High senior Drew McBride won a 7-2 decision over De La Salle's Matthew Pierce at 180 pounds, and teammate David Chavez scored a 5-0 victory over Adan Vargas from Shafter in the heavyweight division.

Bakersfield High's Jake Honey also finished third, winning a hard-fought 3-1 decision over De La Salle's Gavin Fernandez at 152 pounds.

For Honey, the finish was great, but he's more interested in his improvement at this stage of the season.

"I just have to work on everything that my coaches tell me in practice," said Honey, a sophomore. "I have to push as hard as I can in practice everyday, and that's all I can do. I have to work on finishing all of my shots. Other than that, I felt like I did pretty good."

North High senior Mario Gonzalez was also happy with his performance.

After losing his second match of the day, the Stars' 152-pounder battled back to win four straight to place fifth.

"It feels good because coming off of that loss I was down on myself and didn't think I could finish the tournament," Gonzalez said. "But I just came back and won four in a row and did what it took to take home fifth.

"It just makes me feel like I don't have to give up and that I know I can do better than what I put myself out to be. It's better to push myself rather than let everything come crashing down when I lose."

Gonzalez had similar struggles in his fifth-place match against Northview's Jacob Leon. With Leon gaining ground and Gonzalez tiring, he found a sudden burst of energy and pinned his opponent at the 2:52 mark of the match.

"Going into the second period I was gassed," Gonzalez said. "I felt like giving up, but I knew I couldn't. So I just found a move that I was able to hit and I put him on his back and pinned him."

Overall, there were plenty of solid performances among area wrestlers, and Fierro couldn't be happier.

"It's great and it's growing here, which is awesome," Fierro said. "When I was in high school a few years' back or maybe longer than that, there was really only one powerhouse. And now, with the coaching and of these high schools, it's growing here in Bakersfield and Kern County and, hopefully one day, we'll be up there with Clovis and competing with those schools up there. It's just fun to see that the sport as a whole has been growing here. It's great."

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