Gator wrestlers reunited with alumni as they dueled in three playful matches in the 43rd annual Alumni Match and banquet earlier this afternoon.
Junior Thomas Martin said this event is a nice way to start the season.
“Being one of the first things of the season, it’s good to see where you’ve measured up, where you’ve changed in the past offseason or over the last spring or something,” he said. “It’s always good to get these early matches in that are just kinda fun, play around and have the alumni come back.”
Martin had the chance to spar against 24-year-old 2011 alumni Vince Bordi in the heavyweight match, though he lost to the now amateur Mixed Martial Arts participant by one point.
Bordi, now working toward his master’s degree in education while working as a head wrestling coach at Lathrop High School enjoyed the fun atmosphere in the alumni matches.
“It’s more entertaining than competitive and I really like that,” he said.
Based on what he knows about the returning members of the Gators’ team, Bordi thinks they will do well this season.
“I think they have some key injuries – like (Dylan) Phillipy, Naveed (Bagheri), (Andrew) Reggi – and if those guys get healthy, they’re gonna have a really good team. They’re gonna have some really good individuals,” Bordi said.
Although 24-year-old 2010 graduate Jamil Smart lost his match against sophomore Daniel Flores, he was glad to be back on the Gators’ wrestling mat.
“It felt good to be back out there, but I wish I was in shape,” Smart said.
Smart, who is now a wrestling assistant coach at Washington High School, said Flores has improved since the last time he dueled him.
“It was terrible for me but good for (Flores)! He’s grown a lot. He’s gotten a lot better,” Smart said.
Head coach Lars Jensen remains positive for their upcoming season starting in January.
“We have a lot of guys coming back on the team. “We have some young guys that look pretty good, so we’re looking forward to a very successful season,” Jensen said.
The Gators will be back for another preseason event tomorrow at The Swamp for the U21 JC/College Open, a tournament for wrestlers who are 21 years old or younger and enrolled in either junior college or university.