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Subjeck eager to make run at masters, state titles

By: Matt Long Telegraph Sports Editor
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Keaton Subjeck reached the quarterfinals of the state tournament last year before losing his first match of the tournament, three wins away from a state title. In his first match in the consolation bracket at 145 pounds, Subjeck defeated Coleman Hammond of Bakersfield, 6-4, which assured him a state medal. Though he lost his next two matches and finished eighth, it was the match against Hammond that has Subjeck in the position he’s in today, among the top 160-pounders in the state. “The turning point for me was that match against Hammond,” Subjeck said. “He was ranked high and nobody even knew who I was. Right before that match, though, I knew that I could beat him and knew that I was going to beat him. Having that confidence was huge for me. Now I think I can beat anyone when I step onto the mat.” Subjeck’s performance even impressed his coach, Casey Rhyan. “The greater the match, the better he wrestles,” Rhyan said. “Pinning the returning state champ in David Ferry from Oakdale in the Masters semifinals last year and then beating the national champion (Hammond) to earn a state medal, all in one week’s time, is pretty unbelievable. Subjeck, a junior who’s ranked first in the Sac-Joaquin Section and fifth in the state in the 160-pound weight class, has not lost to a California wrestler this season. His only loss has come to Javier Mandera or Roseburg, Oregon, in the semifinals of the Doc Buchanan Tournament on Jan. 7, a match he lost on a takedown in the final five seconds, 4-3. Subjeck ended up winning his next two matches, including a 3-0 win over Matthew Tsarnas of Healdsburg in the consolation finals, to place third, the only tournament he’s competed in this season that he hasn’t won. Two weeks later at the Tim Brown Memorial Tournament, Subjeck faced Tsarnas again in the semifinals and earned a convincing 10-2 victory. He then beat Peter Santos of Oakmont in the finals, 7-5, to win the weight class. The two wins over Tsarnas, along with a 5-3 win over Jorge Barajas of Saint Francis in the finals of the Curt Mettler Invitational on Dec. 10, were the three biggest wins of his season. He hopes for bigger and better wins, as he advances deeper in the postseason. “I’m definitely doing well for myself and have had the season I expected,” Subjeck said. “My goal is to win the state tournament, I’ve just got to keep it going and be mentally tough because these next four weeks are a grind.” Subjeck has beaten Tsarnas (ranked seventh in the state) twice and Santos, ranked tenth, but has not faced the four wrestlers ranked ahead of him, Joey Davis of Santa Fe, Victor Pereira of Newark Memorial, James Wilson of McNair or Adrian Salas of Clovis. The key to his success in the postseason is to continue to wrestle his style, which he describes as aggressive and all-out. “I’m an aggressive wrestler who is always taking shots and going after my opponent,” Subjeck said. “When I hesitate, I do poorly. I’m not going to hold anything back. I’m always on the offensive.” Rhyan, can’t say enough good things about his star wrestler. “Keaton is constantly willing to learn,” Rhyan said. “Even if I see something during a match and tell him to try something different he does it. He’s so coachable. He’s also unbelievable humble. I’m sure people that meet him don’t even know he’s a good wrestler.” Subjeck credits 2011 Oak Ridge graduate and teammate Vinny Waldhauser, who placed second in the state in 2010 and 2011, for helping him last year to become a better wrestler, as well as Rhyan, who he said definitely knows his stuff. Along with learning from those two, he said his success this season has come from a lot of hard work. He also said the confidence he gained at last year’s state tournament has been crucial to his success. “Knowing you can beat someone is better than thinking you can beat them,” he said. “Having confidence has made a world of difference.” Before he attempts to win a state title, Subjeck will try to earn his first Masters title. He placed fourth as a freshman and was second last year. If he qualifies for the state tournament, it will be his third time in three years. As a freshman he lost both his matches, 8-1 and 10-4, at 130 pounds, before placing eighth last year at 145. He will draw on his experience to do even better this year. “I went to the state tournament when I was in eighth grade just to check it out and that was a good experience for me,” he said. “My freshman year I was terrified and lost both my matches. I was even scared last year, but after I won that first match I got accustomed to the whole atmosphere and was fine.” Rhyan said winning a state title, which is what Subjeck is aiming to do, will be very difficult. “To win a state title so many things need to go right for you: the brackets, being healthy, referees’ calls,” Rhyan said. “On top of that Joey Davis is the best wrestler in the country and Victor Pereira is right behind him. I wouldn’t put anything past Keaton, though, he can catch anyone at anytime and beat them. If anyone can do it, he could. “At this time of year, though, you’ve just got to take one match at a time, focus on that match and wrestle your best. The only expectation he should have is to go out and wrestle his very best every match. Keaton’s very good at doing that.”