Cougar Wrestling’s Rising Stars

Jed Kraft, 16, is dominating the competition. Already on the Varsity Wrestling team as a sophomore, weighing in at 138 pounds during his last competition, Jed is returning from an already outstanding season in which he finished second in league as a freshman.

Source: Noah Chambers; Sophomore Jed Kraft
Varsity Wrestler Jed Kraft; Source: Noah Chambers

Coming from a family whose background holds a long history with the sport (his father, Todd Kraft, being assistant coach to head coach Ken Pollastrini), Jed has been described as having a “fierce eye” for the sport. Being able to, “pounce on mistakes” to secure his victory. Winning match after match, his impressive track record is only growing bigger and better.

Due to a much younger team this season, with only one senior, Patrick Brookes, (after some top-notch players graduated in 2013) Jed is an exemplary asset to the school team; who is focusing on building technique, speed, and skill in order to have a steady foundation for the years to come. Jed describes wrestling as something he, “really enjoys,” as it is, “a fun way to meet new people, and build upon existing friendships with other team-members. It is something I can do to challenge myself, while simultaneously having a good time. It is an experience I think everybody should have at least once.”

While he is not yet looking as far ahead as what he’ll do in college, or if he will continue his sport outside of highschool, Jed has decided that his future goals will have to be slightly more tied to the present. “I want to gain as much experience as I can from this season, so that next year I can come back twice as hard.” While he is acutely focused on his wrestling season, Jed has not forgotten the demands put on him by the school. “After I finish wrestling practice, I go straight home to finish my homework and to study for upcoming classes. I have to outline every single day by planning ahead to make sure I have time to finish all of my homework.” Trying to be as good of a student as he is an athlete, Jed helps to break the jock stereotype; listing Math as being his best subject, partly due to the assistance and dedication of the “awesome” Mr. Lahey.

While his passion is wrestling, Jed has listed soccer, and possibly football as future sports he would be interested in exploring. “Wrestling has taught me to challenge myself beyond my limits, and I think that trying new sports would not only keep me busy after wrestling is over, but also help me to build upon myself even more as a person, friend, and athlete.” Jed, along with Kurt Lambaren, reigned in as champions at the Apple Cider tournament over the weekend of January 11th, both winning the consolation championship title. Jed will continue to seek further achievements against the Scotts Valley Falcons on the 15th, and against the Harbor Pirates on the 22nd.

Sophmore Wrestler Kurt Lamberan; Source: Facebook
Sophmore Wrestler Kurt Lamberan; Source: Facebook

Kurt Lambaren, 15 (almost 16), is another top-notch wrestler for the SLV Cougars. Beginning the wrestling season with an preseason injury from football, Kurt played his first match in the Apple Cider tournament at Watsonville High School. Winning 5 out of 6 matches, alongside fellow sophomore and teammate Jed Kraft, he is taking his late arrival to the ring in full stride.

Kurt, who has been wrestling for over seven years, describes wrestling as being a great way to, “show yourself just how physically and mentally tough you really are. Wrestling isn’t just a one-man sport however, it takes a full team to win championships and tournaments.” Kurt assured me that he is not just hoping to win SCCAL, he is, “planning to place first, and is also planning on placing in the top three in CCS championships.” Losing the experience of early season matches due to his injury, Kurt says that he has been doing his best to improve his technique, speed, and skill so he can, “become an even better wrestler for the years to come.”

Kurt advises his fellow athletes to try and get much work as they can done before school gets out. He explains that, “this lets you return from practice with the least amount of homework as possible, and will give you time to have fun over the weekends instead of being cooped up in your room doing schoolwork. Keeping a planner to write down what homework you have, or using your phone for the same purpose, is also a really good idea. If you don’t forget anything, and you get it done right the first time, it will make balancing your school work and athletic demands a lot easier.”

Kurt has stated that he is most attracted to the sciences as, “learning about it is not only interesting, but it has opened me up to my surroundings and has made me think a lot more about what is going on in the environment around me.” Kurt is planning to attend a four-year college directly after high school and to continue his football career throughout his time there.

Describing his experience with sports (his main few being: football, wrestling, and track and field), Kurt says that there is nothing that is really more important to him, “It is hard for me to explain, but basically sports have taught me everything I know about myself, I don’t know what I would do without them.”

Daniel Kraft faces off against Aptos Girl; Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel
Daniel Kraft faces off against Aptos Girl; Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel

Tying up December with the Coast Classic, a two day event at Aptos High, SLV wrestlers have started January strong, with returning players Jed Kraft and Kurt Lambaren winning the title consolation champion in Apple Cider tournament at Watsonville High School on the 11th after losing their first match, and winning the remaining five.  League, which starts on the 15th, will open against the Scotts Valley Falcons at Soquel High and continue through the rest of January with matches against the Harbor Pirates on the 22nd and Aptos Mariners on the 29th.

Varsity players Jason Silva, Kurt Lambaren, and Jed Kraft will be on the prowl for their League titles, looking to pin down as many wins as possible.

-Noah Chambers

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