Archive for Thursday, February 14, 2008

Magdaleno third

February 14, 2008

Maybe it was "Come Sail Away," by Styx.

De Soto freshman Cameron Magdaleno waited quietly by himself Saturday, standing near the wrestling mats in the De Soto High School gymnasium without engaging any of the competitors around him in conversation, without jumping, stretching, jogging or any of the other things wrestlers do to loosen themselves up before matches.

Finally, he left the gym, the Frontier League wrestling tournament in its final stages, and receded into the team's wrestling room. He cranked up the stereo. He did his drills. He stretched, he rehearsed his moves and he sent his blood boiling.

Magdaleno said it was rock and roll, but that he can't even remember what music was being pumped in, only that it pumped him up. He rode those emotions to a dramatic victory in the tournament, finishing third and securing De Soto's only medal.

"I told myself I needed to go into the wrestling room to get the blood rushing," he said. "Maybe that was the only way to win it. I did that, turned up the music really loud and just started drilling and drilling. Then I came out, ready to fight."

Just how much the music and the drills helped the freshman is a fair question - he was slow and nearly pinned several times early in his match. Like "Come Sail Away", Magdaleno went from droopy to dominant in just a few strums of the guitar. He owned the second and third periods, turning the table on his opponent.

The first-year wrestler trailed 7-0, then 10-4 later in the match. Nearly pinned himself early, he bounced back and twice nearly notched a pin of his own. Instead he settled for the big points of a near fall.

Magdaleno finished with a rousing chorus, too - when he went back to the action with 30 seconds remaining, sitting on a small lead, he didn't stall or avoid contact. He drove in, chasing even more points.

"I'm usually a big hip-hop and rap listener, but that wasn't going to cut it this time," Magdaleno said.

De Soto coach Shannon Sawner said Magdaleno's success had less to do with Styx and a lot more to do with his athlete's attitude.

"Cameron has a lot of natural talent and he's just a kid who keeps going, 110 percent all the time," Sawner said. "He doesn't know as much as the other guys on the team in terms of technique, but he doesn't quit and he doesn't get down when things don't go right."

The challenge, Sawner said, is trying to get the rest of the Wildcat roster to follow Magdaleno's lead as the team prepares for the weekend's regional wrestling tournament.

The squad travels both Friday and Saturday to Eudora for the tournament. De Soto will face off against wrestlers from 15 other teams, including area and league rivals such as Eudora, Baldwin, Santa Fe Trail, St. James and Louisburg.

On the line are the all-important tickets to the state tournament, set for the following weekend in Salina. The top four wrestlers in each weight class advance.

Sawner said he's hoping to see a better all-around effort than he Cats turned in at the league meet.

"I'm not satisfied with where we're at. Our biggest problem is our attitude," he said. "I take responsibility for that. I haven't gotten through to them yet about what's important and what it takes to have success. We have some kids that are really working hard and are surprising me, but we also have some who have a lot of talent but don't have the attitude yet.

"I'm trying to turn it around, to make kids understand that if you want to have extraordinary results, you have to put in extraordinary time."

The road will be tough for any potential Cat qualifiers no matter the attitude. Many at this point in the season are stricken with poor records, thus will be matched up against the tournament's top seeds.

Anyone that makes it will either have to pull a huge early-round upset or wrestle long and hard through the consolation bracket.

In either case, Sawner said he's not about to rule any of his young team out.

"You still have to put your tail on the line wrestling the kid in front of you," Sawner said. "Someone has to beat you to get to the state tournament."


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