The varsity wrestling team competed at the CIF state championship on Feb. 26, with seniors Ella Jauregui and Cade Creighton both placing, making them the first Paly wrestlers to do so since 2007, according to Coach Jonathan Kessler.
“(Ella’s) the highest placement out of the girls,” Kessler said. “Seeing Cade on the podium was great.”
Kessler said he wrestled since high school, and began coaching the team during the 2015-16 season.
“The end of the season tournaments (like CCS and the state championships) are always, always, always memorable,” Kessler said. “Ella making it to the state finals was awesome for the program.”
Jauregui placed second after beating the top wrestler in the nation. She began wrestling with Kessler in eighth grade. Jauregui said wrestling and training has helped her grow, both when competing and in academics.
“I 100% believe (wrestling) has helped me grow even outside of the sport,” Jauregui said. “I’ve learned so much about discipline and what it takes to commit to a goal and see it through. The most important thing I’ve gotten from this preparation is a level of comfort and confidence, even when I’m nervous. Reassuring myself that I have done everything in my power to prepare and I am ready to compete is a feeling I’ve worked hard to achieve.”
Senior Cade Creighton placed fifth in his bracket and has been wrestling for 10 years, both for and outside of Paly.
“I definitely think wrestling played a giant role in my life,” Creighton said. “I put in so many hours into this sport and because of that I got to see so many places and wrestle so many amazing athletes. Wrestling made me strong, helped me learn how to fight and made me a more capable person.”
Felter said wrestling contributed to his growth on and off the mat too.
“I’m thankful to have chosen such a unique and different sport since it’s taught me lessons that I didn’t come across in other sports growing up,” Felter said. “It’s taught me how to handle winning, but more importantly it has taught me how to lose.”
Creighton encourages prospective wrestlers to join the team and offered some advice.
“Remember that everyone starts at the same place, and anyone can learn as fast as they want to,” Creighton said. “Wrestling is the most difficult sport in this school, and those who want to push themselves will be very proud of the results.”
Felter seconds Creighton and strongly recommends those interested to give the sport a try.
“Just show up,” Felter said. “It takes a lot of courage to try out such a different sport, and no one is going to blame you if you come in and decide it’s not for you.”