Denair and Delhi High's wrestling programs are just beginning to flourish in the area and within the Southern Athletic League.
Last season was not only an example of the improvement within these small schools and their respective programs, but it was also a testament to the determination these young student-athletes competed with.
Although it was no league title season for either team, both squads still managed to make some splashes, bringing forth a third and fourth place result in the SAL by the season's end.
Denair topped out in third with a 3-3 record, while Delhi trailed just behind in fourth place.
With a new looking team for Denair and a veteran Delhi team, odds are when both sides meet on the mat it will come down to the wire.
“We opened some people’s eyes last year,” said Delhi head coach Ray Cedras. “Nobody counted us to do much but we did and we are looking pretty good this year. We are excited... the kids are excited and that is what is going to make us better, not just me believing in them.”
Delhi returns Jesse Flores (220), Samuel Cortez (160), Scorpio Martinez (155-160) and Braulio Gambino (170-180).
All four should be competitive in their respective weight classes and quite possibly top competitors in the SAL, but coach Cedras and his team are looking past that.
“We are not looking for league champions, we are not looking to make divisionals, we are looking for masters and above,” said Cedras. “Individually, it's what we are working on”
Should be a tough task for the Hawks, but very doable if they continue to progress as the year carries on.
“They do understand that we as wrestlers are a rare group, you have got to get better if you don't get better then you won't get far,” Cedras added. “Every wrestler's dream is to make it to state and it's just how much work you want to put in it in order to get there because state doesn’t just get there for you, you actually have to get good.”
Denair and head coach Don Helnore have been striving for success and last season the team was only a few points away from potentially finishing atop in the SAL.
This is a different year and a different team, however, as the Coyotes lost five seniors to graduation.
“Losing the seniors will be tough to overcome, but the leadership role for the returners and newcomers should help, they will have to step in immediately,” said Helnore.
Junior Kyle Prock (138) should be the team leader said Helnore. Along with Jordan Cervantes (132) and Kyle Perkins (220), the team is not shaping out too bad.
Blake Davis (145) made some noise last year as a freshman and is back for his sophomore campaign.
“He did a lot of good things for us last year,” Helnore said of Davis. “He should make great improvements as this year goes on, his maturity is there and I think he will step up big for us.”