By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.—If anything 2018 was the mountain top for McKay’s David Rubio in a way.
After missing out on State as a Freshman at 152 by one spot in the old model of Top 3 go to the State Wrestling Meet and had to sit out Districts his Sophomore year, the now-Senior Rubio used the fire from the Triple-OT loss to Sprague’s Landon Davis to redeem himself with a State Title as a Junior.
Now one of 48 kids on the first day of practice on Tuesday, Rubio knows there’s still a lot of wrestling left to do since he became McKay’s First State Title winner in 15 years this past Winter at 170.
But, it was just a leveling out as Rubio hopes that his Junior Year was just a sign for things to come.
“It’s just my hunger to compete and be the best in the State, it’s always there,” said Rubio. “It’s been there since my freshman year. If anything it makes me more hunger because it’s my last year and I just want to go out on top. I’m hungry for my opponents and I’m hungry to get those tough matches in.”
He wrestled light for the weight at the State Tournament, about low to mid-160’s so not too much heavier than the 160-pound cut-off that he’s aiming to wrestle at this season.
With him, Bryant Mendoza and Tess Barnett returning after their State appearances leading a pack of returners from last season’s team, it’s going to be important for them to step up as leaders under the first year of Eric Hader as Head Coach.
“You lead by example. You work your butt off here and all the lower classmen see what it takes to get to state and what it takes to be successful,” said Rubio.
With a solid base of underclassmen that include David’s younger brother Jesse Rubio, it’s going to be important for the returners like a Jonathan Mentado, Zair Ku Beiza, Joseph ‘JoJo’ Jones, Andy Nguyen, James Jennings, Patrick Neville and Jonathan ‘Mickey’ Duff to name a few to help guide the youngsters along the way for their first tournament of the year December 1 at Cascade High School.
“I think it’s pretty good to have a lot of freshman, they’re all looking good for their first practice and a lot of them have a lot of potential,” said Duff. “A lot of them are getting it slow, but the more we help them the more they’ll progress.”
And Ku Beiza, one of the three State Qualifiers his Freshman year with Salvador ‘Chava’ Carmago and Matt Jarding, returns to the mat after tearing his ACL his sophomore year of football and will probably return to the 195-pound class that features Santos Cantu locally at Sprague.
“I miss it a lot, I miss drilling with (David) Rubio,” starts Ku Beiza. “I still wish I was still in my freshman year, it was fun with Salvador and Ivan (Marquez) and all of those guys and Jarding. But it’s a new year and I’m looking forward to it.”
Following their December 1 Tournament, McKay will host their annual-Tournament in the Herrin Holiday Classic on December 8.