Success is nothing new for the Bakersfield High wrestling team. For more than a decade, the Drillers have consistently been one of top teams in the state.
That was the case again this year despite the fact that BHS had to rely on freshmen and sophomores in several weight classes.
Under the tutelage of BVarsity All-Area Wrestling Coaches of the Year Andy Varner and Anthony Box, the Drillers sent 10 wrestlers to the CIF State Championships.
Three of them (Bryce Martin, second place at 170 pounds; Navonte Demison, third place at 106 pounds; and Carlos Herrera, sixth place at 120 pounds), ended up earning top-eight medals, helping the school take 10th place in the team standings with 75 points.
"We had a good mix of some older guys, some upperclassmen like Bryce Martin, who was really able to lead our young group," Varner said. "We had a ton of young guys this year. I thought they really stepped it up and improved as the season went along. I thought they really finished well."
With so many underclassmen on the team, Varner wasn't sure exactly what to expect this year.
But as the season went on, Varner, along with Box, a former CSUB wrestler, and the rest of the BHS coaching staff was better able see the potential of its wrestlers and tap into it.
"Every season there's always some surprises," Varner said. "Some good surprises. Then there's always a few disappointments at the end. But as the whole the group worked and trained as hard as they could. They definitely exceeded our expectations. We knew they could do well. We knew that these young kids were good. But we didn't know exactly how good they were. I think they showed that they're kind of scratching the surface of what they can accomplish later on in their careers."
While never seeming to be short on talent, Varner believes BHS is always formidable for another reason too.
"I think what makes our program special is that the coaches we have are great," Varner said. "A lot of the time I get a lot of the credit when they're the ones who put in a lot of the work and they should be getting the credit as well."
-- STEPHEN LYNCH