Dave Vibber knew who was walking toward him, but he never would have guessed what Darrick Kahle was about to tell him.
“We were out at the track and someone was talking toward us and I knew it was him by his long arms and legs,” the former Corona de Sol wrestling coach said. “We lost track of him, he was grinding it out working in a warehouse and he said he wanted to talk to me.”
So they headed back to the coach’s office and Kahle talked about wanting to go back to school, become a teacher and coach wrestling.
Vibber sat back and chuckled, knowing Kahle wasn’t exactly a model student, but also knew once he set his mind to something it was going to be done.
“I knew he’d be a great coach and role model because he’s been in the trenches,” Vibber said. “I’m happy to see him doing something he loves to do. He was one of my favorites.”
Kahle, a 1996 graduate of Corona, took over the Mountain Pointe wrestling program this year after being an assistant the last few years.
It has brought a different vibe to the wrestling room even though the previous top man, Shannon Radford, is still in the room as an assistant.
“I’m old school and it was all about drilling and working because that’s the way I was taught,” Radford said. “He has brought a technique-focused practice. It’s different and something these kids probably needed.
“He is getting in there working and teaching them.”
Kahle comes from one of the most successful big-school programs in the state where Vibber did a great job of fostering a family atmosphere and taught the sport in a way that both challenged the athletes as wrestlers and as a man.
“He had such a presence about him” Kahle said. “I try and do the things he did for us. A big part of what I am trying to do here is what I learned from him all those years ago.”
Part of that is putting in the extra time in the offseason and building a strong foundation for the program.
Kahle, who was a two-time state placer for Corona, started opening the wrestling room during the summer and saw attendance maintain.
It should only get stronger with the creation of the Mountain Top Wrestling Club, which will allow anyone of any age free of charge to become part of a group tied to the Mountain Pointe wrestling program. It is open twice a week at 6 p.m.
It is something Kahle and former Mountain Pointe state placer Shaun Mros are running with hopes of matching the success other area clubs like Desert Vista (Thunder Wrestling Club) and Mesa Mountain View (East Valley Toros) have achieved.
“It is so important to let kids know there is someone here for them, someone who wants to reach the next level,” said Kahle, who is married to Kate, and has two children (Luca and Rohan). “It is important to be able to provide that. I want them to know I will be here for them.”
The success is starting to translate somewhat on the mat. The wins are not piling up but mistakes are being lessened, the 14-spot lineup is being completely filled and the competitive gap is being shortened.
The program has been struggling in recent years to fill up an entire lineup despite being one of the top 15 largest schools in the state and hasn’t had state placers since the 2009-10 season when James Carroll (125) took fourth and this year’s group of seniors were just freshmen.
Progress is being made and something senior Cody Rojas, a two-tome state qualifier, wishes he had when he was a freshman.
“You can’t see it now but it will help in the long run,” Rojas said. “It would’ve helped me practice what they are preaching more and be that much better.”
Wrestling has been a strong influence in shaping the lives of many and Kahle, who Vibber called a brawler on the mat, includes himself among them.
“Wrestling was the beginning of my journey,” said Kahle, who is a state champ for the blue belt in jiu-jitsu. “It is a sport that consumes you. We are taking our licks. We do have a goal and that is to improve and maintain what we have. Every year we will continue to get better.”
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