The Tam wrestling team just wrapped up their 2017-18 campaign, placing second in MCALs and qualifying three wrestlers for the second day of the vaunted NCS tournament.
On top of these postseason accomplishments, the team also beat Redwood for the first time in 13 years.
Although the end result is admirable, the journey was far from easy. Before they had even met for their first practice, the squad was already looking at an uphill battle. Just one season after graduating NCS individual champion and CIF state tournament participant Karim Shakur, projected 2018 captain Tristan Mitchell suffered a catastrophic knee injury, in which he tore his ACL, MCL and meniscus, on the football field. This ended his high school football and wrestling careers in one play.
Yet even facing these obstacles, the Hawks surprised many by putting together a successful season.
Led by a strong core of seniors, the Hawks dominated on the mat in MCAL team competitions throughout the regular season, and had a strong showing in the MCAL tournament, falling only to Drake en route to a second place finish.
“Aside from Redwood and Drake, we breezed through most of our MCAL competition,” Senior Rezin Harris said. “I’m proud of my teammates and coaches for putting in the work to become a consistent force to be reckoned with.”
Harris also expressed a love for Tam wrestling and the positive impact it has had on him during high school. “I’ve learned many valuable life lessons from wrestling,” he said. “Tam wrestling has taught me camaraderie, as well as helped me forge a mind of steel.”
Head coach Preston Picus expressed a great deal of pride for his team, and reflected on the growth of the program during his tenure.
“I’m super proud of this year’s team We came very close to winning league (MCAL) and had a win against Redwood that was huge for our program,” Picus said. “When I first started at Tam seven years ago, we had about eight kids on the team. This year we had 30, and half of our starters rank among the top in NCS. It’s been really special to see the growth.”
In order to help fill the void left by Mitchell, senior Lucas Meyers joined the team for the first time. His bulky frame made the transition easier for the Hawks.
“I joined the team to get tough,” Meyers said. “I learned to push past discomfort and pain to achieve personal triumph and victory for my team.”
Looking ahead, Picus acknowledged that he will graduate a loaded class, but expressed optimism for the future as well.
“We are losing four really tough seniors in Rezin and Ronin Harris, Lucas Meyers, and Eli Ferrel,” Picus said.
“You can’t replace leaders like that overnight, but I’m excited for the future. We have a strong 2020 class, highlighted by leaders Ethan Parker and Tico Ferrer. The future is bright for Tam wrestling. We’re going to be a powerhouse for a long long time.” ♦