MADERA — The Paso Robles Bearcat wrestling team sent eight of their boys to Masters last weekend and two of them, sophomore Peyton Kilber and senior Cameron Davidson, placed 10th and have advanced to the State Tournament in Bakersfield this weekend.
This weekend will be the first time either wrestler has advanced to the State Meet but this is the first time that Davidson has made it out of the CIF round and on Friday he will find himself in a place he used to dream of as a young boy.
“It has probably been my biggest dream for my entire life,” Davidson told the Paso Robles Press. “Since I was little, I have been wrestling and since I was small I always had a goal of making it to State. It was very emotional for me, it was really nice just being able to make it my senior year.”
The seniors path was far from easy as he placed fifth in Division 2 at CIF, in the 145-pound division, but would get a chance in his final match to prove the he was better than he proved just two weekends prior. Davidson won his first match convincingly, 14-4, before dropping his next match, 2-0. The senior started to turn heads on his second day at Masters when he started off his morning with a matchup against the No. 10 overall seed.
To the surprise of many, Davidson has his opponent on his back waiting for a nearfall call from the official at the end of the match with the outcome hanging in the balance. The Bearcat senior would not get the points and would eventually lose the match but it only elevated his confidence for the next match which would determine if he would be going to State.
“I had to win one more match to qualify and I wrestled the CIF champ from my Division,” Davidson said. “I took 5th at CIF and I ended up beating him 14-2.” With a clinical performance, Davidson took down the 145-pound CIF champion, knocking him out of State and taking the spot for himself.
“Right before my match with the CIF Champion, I was kind of doubting myself because obviously he placed a lot higher than me but I just kind of decided — you know it’s been a dream of mine — to turn it into a goal that I was going to set for myself and achieve,” Davidson said. “And I think that’s really important, making your dreams, goals and then making them a reality.”
For the sophomore, Kilber, this was more or less part of the plan. As a freshman just a year ago, he made it to Masters and missed State by only one match. This season the sophomore went 22-6 over the course of the season and finished third at CIF for his second consecutive year but this time won the match he needed, placing him tenth and punching his ticket to Masters.
“Before I came into this year I was thinking that I want to make top 10 in Masters and I did,” Kilber said.
The sophomore entered this season with expectations and nailed them exactly with the help of his coaches doubled with the lessons he learned a year ago.
“I learned to never stop wrestling,” He said. “Last year I would stop, or if I was on bottom I wouldn’t move but this year it is easier to get away. In takedowns, I still stop a little bit but when I don’t stop I finish them.”
In 2019 the Bearcat wrestling program also sent two wrestlers to State — Nathan Garcia and Porter Tanner — but that was under former head coach and Central Coast wrestling legend John Azevedo. This season, Paso Robles has been coached by co-head coaches Nate Ybarra and Chris Montiero and together they have helped the boys progress with a slightly different style than in years previous.
“I still use the techniques they used last year,” Ybarra said. “Coach John Azevedo was my coach at Cal Poly so it is the same philosophy about how we finish moves. I just took what they built me on and brought in some hard drills that we do every single day. Everything is on a timer, it is really fast paced, it gets their wind going but really I just want them to have mental toughness. So if we create a really difficult environment where they have to push themselves through every single day then they are going to be mentally tough at the end of the season.”
While the Bearcats didn’t experience much success navigating the Mountain League in their first year under Ybarra, Paso Robles has shown their strength in the postseason tournaments. Not only have the boys on the team responded to his coaching techniques but also value him on a more personal level.
“Nate is a really good coach,” Davidson said. “He connects on a wrestling level with technique and all that stuff but he also connects on a personal level. He helps me not only with wrestling but also with school and things like that.”
Ybarra, Montiero, Kilber and Davidson made the trip to Bakersfield Wednesday after school and will compete this weekend for a shot to be crowned a State Champion.