Wrestler places 2nd in Masters

Down 9-7 with seconds left in the last period of the match, Matt Katz ’07 thrust his opponent’s back onto the mat. The referee counted. One, two. With one second until reaching a full three count and a pin, Katz’s rival escaped. After making it farther into playoffs than a member on any other winter sport, Katz’s high school wrestling career ended Feb. 24.

“He got away, but it was really close,” Katz said. In his three matches at the Masters Tournament, Katz had a record of 1-2. After winning the first match 8-2, Katz lost the second 8-4 to eventual state qualifier George Munoz of West Covina High School, landing him in the consolation bracket. Ultimately, Katz lost the final match to Alfonso Estrada of Perris High School. 

 Katz, who qualified for CIF each of the last three years, became only the third wrestler in school history to make it to the finals, much of which he attributes to his coach, Gary Bairos.

“He’s been the single most important influence in my life.”  Katz said. “In high school, I never planned on wrestling. I was on the fence, and Coach [Bairos] asked me to join so I stuck with it.”

It’s not a decision Katz regrets. While the sport is a year-round commitment, he says that the work pays off in all aspects of life.

“The constant repetition, dedication and drive necessary in wrestling carry over to other things,” Katz said. “If anything, my grades and academics benefit from all the time in the [wrestling] room.”

Katz will wrestle for Princeton University next year, which he said will provide a good education as well as the ability to wrestle.

“When you stop wrestling, you feel it. You want to go back after a couple of weeks,” Katz said. “I won’t wrestle after college, but I want to do it for as long as I can.”