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Bruce Scott returns to lead Hilmar wrestling
Junior Antonio Melo works on his ground skills with senior Mathew Labass during a Thursday afternoon Hilmar practice. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

The last time Bruce Scott coached wrestling at Hilmar High Bill Clinton had just been elected president, the World Wide Web was in its infancy, and Whitney Houston was at the top of the pop charts. Now, 19 years later, Scott has returned as head coach of Hilmar’s wrestling program. Even though many things have changed in the world since, Scott’s found that not much has changed inside the wrestling room.

Those constants are hard work, tenacity, commitment, and sacrifice. Five paragraphs painted on the wall of Hilmar’s wrestling room reflect these values — paragraphs written by Scott himself and have motivated countless Yellowjacket wrestlers over the years.

After an impressive 2011 season that saw two of its wrestlers qualify for sections, Hilmar has the opportunity to be led once again by the proverbial grandfather of Yellowjacket wrestling. With both sections qualifiers returning, junior Antonio Melo and senior Mathew Labass, expectations are high.

Melo, who was one win away from qualifying for the state tournament, will be wrestling at the same weight of 195 pounds this season. His familiarity with the weight class coupled with his increased strength has many in Hilmar circling this year’s state tournament on their calendars.

Labass, who finished 2-2 at sections last season, makes the move down to 170 pounds to fill the void left by Tyler Juncker. Jesus Izazaga is also expected to do well this season at 182 pounds.

Because of Hilmar’s small team size a Trans Valley League Championship isn’t on the table. Instead, the Yellowjackets will concentrate on individual success and overall team progress. Hilmar takes its first step today in the revived Hilmar Lions Invitational. The tournament will begin at 9 a.m. and will boast local teams such as Gregori and Pitman high schools.