Through their first 12 dual matches Cambridge is 7-5, with wins over region foes Northview and Osborne last week and a third-place finish as the Kennesaw Mountain Duals in November.
“We’re starting 12 freshmen and sophomores and two juniors, but we have some experienced and talented kids within that group,” said Cambridge wrestling coach Don St. James, the man tabbed with the responsibility of building the Bears wrestling program from the ground up.
“We have several kids that can place in the state this year as individuals and while we have some holes in our dual lineup, they are good holes with a lot of promising freshman that are getting better and better.”
St. James came to Cambridge from Centennial, where he entered in the exact same role when the Knights started wrestling 15 years ago. During his decade and a half at Centennial, the veteran coach worked with 15 state finalists and five different state champions — helping the Knights establish themselves as a local power.
At Cambridge, he said, the process of building a strong program is already well ahead of where the Knights were at the same time.
That progress comes courtesy of a parent-run junior program that kicked off before Cambridge’s doors even opened.
“The youth programs are always the first thing that has to be built, and we had one going last year. The parents and community support are the only way to develop good wrestlers and there is a lot of great support at Cambridge.”
The Bears have 83 wrestlers in their junior program and 26 currently wrestling at the high school level. Within those 26 are a handful of top young wrestlers, including 113-pound sophomore JR Salemi and 126-pound freshman Brandon Filosi — who started the season a perfect 12-0.
St. James also pointed out Chris Anderson, an 11-1 freshman, 182-pound sophomore Brock Neilson and junior heavyweights Malik McNeil and Kryshna Tanksley as wrestlers that will help the Bears compete at the highest level right away this winter.
“Normally when you start a program you have to teach work ethic first, but with these guys leading the way I don’t have to because they already know what it takes.
“This program is going to be in the hunt very quickly, quicker than most schools in most sports when they start. We have potential to be really good this year with these young kids and I know we have more good young ones on the way.”
Cambridge will wrestle at Kell tonight and travel to Creekview Saturday for the Warrior Rumble Duals.