Unlike most freshman, when Alex Bambic went on the mat for the first time this season for the Desert Vista wrestling team he wasn’t exactly an unknown.
Bambic has been around the wrestling scene almost year-round since he was in fourth grade.
But a 25-7 record as a 215-pound division varsity rookie, who has been on the mat with wrestlers two or three years older, has raised some eyebrows and made him something of a freshman phenom.
And with the regional qualifications and state championships coming up in February, people are forgetting his class ranking.
“At this point of the season he’s no longer a freshman,” Desert Vista coach David Gonzalez said. “Nobody cares now if he’s a freshman. If he relies on that then he’s not going to finish with the goals he has in mind.”
And, of course, Bambic has a state championship in mind.
“It’s now or never,” Gonzalez said. “Who knows about next year? There might be an injury or someone might catch up with you, so if he’s good enough this year, let’s do it this year.”
Bambic may be in is first year of high school, but his experience belies his academic standing and mat maturity.
“I’ve been wrestling for a while, and I’ve learned a lot over that time,” Bambic said. “I get a little worried sometimes when I wrestle someone a couple of years older because sometimes they have more strength, but I just go out there and wrestle.”
Bambic didn’t work his way up the weight ladder. He was a 130-pounder before he entered middle school.
Experience, or mat time, helped Bambic advance beyond his years.
“He’s been wrestling for a long time so that’s helped his maturity,” Gonzalez said. “He has a lot of mat time, and now I don’t care about wins and loses. In the end it comes down to mat time.”
Bambic knows a lot was expected from him even as a rookie.
“I felt a little bit of pressure early in the season,” he said, “but I learned a lot this year from coach Gonzo (Gonzalez) and coach (John) Matthews and other wrestlers.”
Bambic’s next lesson could come in his first 5A-I state championship meet on Feb. 20, and that’s a classroom he doesn’t figure to miss.