With an image of their younger selves fresh in mind, Arlington wrestlers reflected on their years together from youth tournaments to high school competition.
“When it came to wrestling, we were pretty good,” junior Hunter Gilmore said Tuesday afternoon, thinking back to his fifth-grade year as it was depicted in the photo the five Eagles had just viewed. “But outside of wrestling, we were crazy. It was … interesting.”
Back in those days, senior heavyweight Remington Gay — who was taller than the rest of his teammates even then — enjoyed earning trophies for tournament wins best.
“And watching kids cry when they left the mat. That was pretty cool, too,” he joked, looking to his buddies for their reactions. “I liked that.”
Youth wrestling was an enjoyable experience in more ways than one for the Arlington wrestlers who've gone onto state qualifications, school records and Gay's 2019 state title win.
“I think it was just going to the tournaments and having a good ol' time eating, instead of watching our weight,” senior Kobe Wilkins said when recounting his favorite memories.
“I knew all of the coaches,” junior 126-pounder Trevor Cooley added. “I wasn't scared. I just did my best that I could.”
Josh Miller, the Eagles' record-holder in single-season wins, said he remembers being pretty salty back in the day.
“When I was a little kid, I was pretty good,” Miller said with a laugh. “I usually placed pretty high.”
Gay, Gilmore, Cooley and Wilkins more or less confirmed the statement with their head nods.
“At little kids state I won most of my matches,” Miller continued. “Of course I'd get beat, but my dad coached me all the way up.”
Now, though, the stakes have changed with coach Brandon Mues leading them through their high school seasons. Weekend meals at tournaments aren't near as hearty and the seriousness has been amped up.
Wilkins, who is ranked No. 3 in Class B's 182-pound class by newrestle.com, said state competition motivates him now.
But, even so, the five Eagles in the old photo are still Eagles together now in the new one taken Tuesday. They don't discount that fact at all.
“I like dual tournaments because it lets me watch everybody else,” said Gay, who's No. 1 at 285 pounds.
“It does feel a little different, but I kind of try to have that same confidence I did when I was a little kid,” Miller said. He's up over 100 career wins — as is Gilmore — and excited for continued competition as a junior.
“It's just felt like home,” Cooley said of his time spent on the mat with his friends.
It should after the Eagles have spent so much time working on their skills together. Seniors Alex Luttig, Travis Warner and Jadyn Kinnaman have joined them for much of the ride, too.
“We've gotten to know each other a lot more,” Gilmore said. “We're closer.”
And their even better now than they were when Miller's dad was coaching him up.