Wildcat wrestling team’s experience is source of strength in competitive league


The Redlands East Valley wrestling team huddles before the Yucaipa match on Dec. 5, in the Wildcat gymnasium. (MIA ARANDA/ Ethic photo)

Winter season means that wrestling season is back, and Redlands East Valley has a winning combination of coaches, players and strategy. Unlike the WWE, these players are not acting but instead put a large amount of time into perfecting their skills with the help of all of their coaches.  REV science teacher Bryan Holcombe is beginning his second season as the head wrestling coach.

Holcombe began doing jiu-jitsu at a young age. By the time he reached high school, he wanted to play a school sport and jiu-jitsu was not an option so he chose wrestling, which is quite similar to jiu-jitsu. While attending REV, Holcombe competed as a part of the wrestling team for four years, from 2004 to 2008. From this, Holcombe has gained considerable experience, which he uses to better assist his team.

In wrestling, players can gain points through various different positions while on the mat. A takedown, as well as a reversal, is worth two points, and an escape is worth one point. A near fall, which takes places when a player exposes their opponent’s back towards the mat, can be worth between two and four points. If a player pins their opponent by holding their back to the mat for two seconds, the player will automatically win the match regardless of the score.

Holcombe is assisted in coaching by Joe Johnson, who has been working with the REV wrestling program for more than four years, and Zak Kear, who has much experience from wrestling previously at Cal Baptist University.

“Our goal is to always end the season better than we started,” said Holcombe. “Better wrestlers, better work ethics, better teammates, better students and overall better people.” Furthermore, he believes that their biggest strength this year is the team’s experience, considering only four seniors graduated last year from their program.

Bryan Holcombe, Redlands East Valley head wrestling coach, maintains a calm demeanor throughout the matches as he coaches from the sidelines on Dec. 5, in the Wildcat gymnasium. (MIA ARANDA/ Ethic Photo)

The first practice took place on Oct. 29, following the first match of the season, which was against the San Andreas League Champions, Indian Springs High School on Nov. 13 in the REV gymnasium. Joseph Chavez, Kevin Jenson and Sebastian Gutierrez were chosen as co-captains for the varsity team. It was a close match, but REV’s varsity team lost 33-37 to Indian Springs.

REV senior Laila Contreras has been a part of the girl’s varsity wrestling team throughout all four years of high school. She joined the wrestling team with the idea of wanting to try something out of her comfort zone.

“My favorite thing about the sport is probably the toughness,” said Contreras. “Not only does it challenge you physically, but boy it also challenges you mentally.” Her coaches have supported Contreras by helping her gain confidence in a sport in which she was not familiar. Often times, she would doubt herself on a move or want to quit, but her coaches were always there to help her push through and show her that she is capable of doing anything that she puts her mind to.

So far, Contreras has placed in every tournament she has attended. Contreras hopes that she will place at state for her final year of high school.

REV senior Daniela Galvez has been wrestling since her sophomore year and is currently on the girl’s varsity wrestling team. She has always enjoyed doing any type of combat sport, so when she heard about the wrestling team she knew she had to join.

“My favorite thing about wrestling is the feeling I get as soon as the ref raises my hand [signifying a win] because it shows all the hard work I have put into it,” said Galvez. She is coached by Coach Joe and Coach Holcombe. “Coach Holcombe has helped me become a better wrestler by pushing me to my fullest potential because he knows what I am capable of accomplishing,” Galvez said. “Coach Joe has always been there for me and encourages me to just go out there on the mat and do what I love.”

Galvez has had numerous accomplishments including being ranked in the top 12 wrestlers in the state of California, a Masters Runner Up in which she got 2nd place and her forever title as a CBL and CIF champion. This season, Galvez hopes “to stay the CBL and CIF champion, become the Masters Champion, place no lower than 3rd place at State and go to Nationals and place there.”

James Alvarez is a REV senior who has been wrestling for four years as of this season and is currently a part of the boy’s varsity team. He first caught an interest in the sport when he realized it was “one of the two sports on a high school campus where you can compete physically.”

With Coach Holcombe there to guide him, Alvarez has been pushed harder and motivated by Holcombe in the wrestling room during conditioning drills, allowing him not to get as tired when wrestling someone on the mat.

In addition to practicing four days out of the week, Alvarez also works out in the weight room on his own time six days of the week. With a couple of tournament medals ranging from 1st to 3rd place, Alvarez has his mind set on a 182 league championship, and hopes to place in the top three in CIF and move on to Masters this year.

Senior co-captains Joseph Chavez and Kevin Jenson meet with Yucaipa captains prior to the match on Dec. 5, 2018, in the Wildcat gymnasium. (MIA ARANDA/ Ethic Photo)

REV senior, Joseph Chavez has been wrestling for four years and is the co-captain of the boys varsity wrestling team. Like many others who started wrestling in high school, Chavez became interested in the sport when he decided he wanted to try something new.

Chavez says, “Holcombe is very organized and makes sure that we are always practicing everything we need to. His biggest strength as a coach is his organization skills. He always has a process that he wants us to follow.”

Chavez identifies some of his role models as his coach, Holcombe, and his past teammates who have already graduated, like Riley Emery and Jeremiah Cabrera. To keep improving his skills, Chavez practices seven days a week for two hours a day from 3 to 5 p.m., lifts weights on the weekends and runs every morning.

Chavez’s biggest accomplishment as a wrestler is being ranked in the top five in CIF. His favorite thing about wrestling is the fact that “it all depends on you. It’s not a team sport in the sense where you can rely on your teammates to win for you. It’s no one else’s fault but your own if you lose and if you win. Everything is relying on you.” Like every season, Chavez is motivated with the same goal of going as far as he can and improving as a wrestler and a person all around.

The Redlands East Valley wrestling team has had countless accomplishments over the last two decades. Holcombe states, “Over the past 20 years we have accomplished 71 individual CBL Champions, 51 individual CIF Placers, 19 time City Wrestling Champs (undefeated all-time vs RHS), 18 individual Masters Placers, 11 individual State Placers, 11 individual CIF Champions, 9 CBL Team Championships, 5 individual Masters Champions, 2 individual State Champions and 1 CIF team Championship.”

In addition, last year in the 2017-18 school year, Chris Albrecht placed fifth in CIF individuals, and Daniela Galvez was ranked in the top 12 wrestlers in California.

Rob Tompkins, Redlands East Valley boys athletic director, manages the scoreboard during the wrestling match on Dec. 5, in the Wildcat gymnasium. (MIA ARANDA/ Ethic Photo)

Holcombe believes that the most competitive matches of the season were against 2018 CIF Champions Carter High School on November 28, 30, and December 1 and 2017 CIF Champions Yucaipa High School on December 5, 2018.

“We have a very talented league for wrestling,” he said,  “and often the CBL champs win or compete for a CIF title.”

The Wildcats lost to both teams but will have a chance to match up again against Carter on Dec. 12 at Carter High School.

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