Twelve Bridges claims league championship over Glen Edwards

Undefeated wrestling teams settle it on the mat
By: Kurt Voigt News Messenger Correspondent
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It was a fitting climax to the Foothill Intermediate Schools Athletic League 2011-12 wrestling season as the two undefeated Lincoln schools met on the mat for a winner-take-all match up last month. Twelve Bridges Middle School hosted the league championship against Glen Edwards Middle School. Both the Titans and the Panthers had made their way through the FISAL without a loss and came down to what the head coaches of both clubs said would be for all the marbles. The excitement in the air before the match was palpable as every seat in the TBMS Gym was taken. The team’s junior varsities took to the mats first to determine which wrestlers would move up to fill vacancies on the varsity level. That not only fills out both rosters but also gives each team a better chance for victory since only varsity points are counted for the championship. The preliminary matches also give the JV grapplers valuable experience in front of a large crowd. The varsity match then began with the wrestlers in each weight class lining up opposite of their opponent in a show of sportsmanship and respect. As each wrestler’s name was called they hustled to the center of the mat to shake hands to the cheers of the crowd. “First I clear my mind of all thoughts,” said Twelve Bridges’ Ryan Ojeda prior to the beginning of the match. “I don’t think about anything but the match and I think about what I’m going to do. I’m confident and excited.” Ojeda would eventually win his bout and finished second in Placer County’s overall ranking for his weight class. “I think about what’s happening on the mat,” said Glen Edwards’ Kyle Smolich as he sat patiently for his match to begin, “but also that it’s just another day. Of course, I hope to win but (more importantly) have a good match.” Twelve Bridges went ahead early and didn’t look back. The Titans took command and eventually emerged with an 83-9 victory. It was a banner season for the young school. The Titans were third in the county and placed fourth in the regional tournament. The team also defeated Silverado for the first time in a nonleague match. Silverado went on to win their league as well this season. “It has been a great season. The kids have worked really hard for this and I’m glad it worked out for them,” said TBMS wrestling head coach Blaine Eslinger. “They exceeded my expectations and I am very proud of them. What they accomplished this year is a direct payback for all of their hard work.” Eslinger said when the program was started he had only 18 wrestlers. This year it more than tripled to 60. That allowed the Titans to be well represented in each weight class. Eslinger credited his team’s great attitude and his assistant coaches Cody Evans and John Aleman efforts for what his squad accomplished this year. Eslinger also thanked Derek Ojeda, Dr.Brian Crawford, KIenichi Tofft and Tony Thomas for the time they donated to the team as well. The Panthers’ wrestling head coach Kirby Desha congratulated the Titans on their championship season, but was equally as proud of his club. He said it was a terrific year for both schools and would be a tremendous boost for the Lincoln High School program when these wrestlers move up to that level. “They wanted it more than we did,” said Desha, who added that the championship atmosphere contributed to a loss of focus his team suffered. “A very tough way to end what had been a great season for us. “Wrestling is about more than wins and losses, it’s about challenging yourself,” Desha continued. “The motto in wrestling is ‘Never give up and never quit.’ When you get beat, you try to learn from the loss. You pick yourself up off the mat and move forward, both in wrestling and in life.” Thanks to the efforts of the teams and all involved, the future looks bright for both school’s programs.