By Mathew Brock

The 2017 Bruins wrestling team had a strong showing Thursday at their first meet of the year against the Illinois Valley Cougars. The 14-player-strong Bruins won 40-12 after a strong start.

As the last of the warm-up exercises ended and the lights dimmed, Bruins wrestlers gave a great performance despite their inexperienced roster. After several early victories, the Bruins went on to win most of the night’s matches.

Head Coach John Christopher was both surprised and excited at how well the team performed in their first match of the season, especially considering how many of the players are new to the sport.

“I think they did phenomenally well. I couldn’t have asked more of the kids.” said Christopher. “A lot of the new guys are only second-yearers, so it takes a lot to do that well.”

The strong start to the season has Christopher in high spirits and looking forward to his plans for the team.

“Long-term goals for this season are just to have the kids do their best and work the hardest they can,” he added. “That’s all I ask of them when they get out on the mat: to put forth their best effort and don’t give up. That’s what I saw tonight; every kid fighting the hardest he could.”

According to volunteer coach Alonzo Nalls, the team will keep at its current pace when it comes to practice and training to gradually improve and grow throughout the year.

“We’ll be sticking to what we’re doing and the stuff we have already set for this week,” said Nalls. “Every week we’ll continue to add stuff and get better. We have a system that we put together. We started with the foundational work. All you really need is a good takedown, to know how to defend that takedown, a pinning combination and an escape.”

According to Nalls, experience is what the younger players currently need the most.

“The more matches and more experience you get is what is gonna help us win our future battles.”

The Bruin’s fight again today in Crescent City in the Battle at the Border match against the Del Norte Warriors. The match starts at 9 a.m. at Del Norte High School.