When two-time wrestling state placer Bubba Summers moved from Kamiah, Idaho to Dubois earlier this year, he found himself at a school without a wrestling team.
In Clark County, where the high school enrollment is around 50 students, the only winter sport is boys basketball. Moving to the school could have ended Summers’s wrestling career. But for him, having no team was no reason to give up.
This year, Summers and Manny Hernandez, both upperclassmen at Clark County High School, will wrestle with the West Jefferson team throughout the season. Each day Monday through Friday when the weather permits, they drive themselves the half hour to practice with the team in Terreton.
“We’re excited to have them,” Coach Triston Rogers said.
Summers said they don’t usually make it to practice on time, so they typically go back to school afterward to practice with his father, Kirk Summers, who is also a teacher at CCHS.
“We only have about an hour of practice, and then we come back to Dubois and we either lift weights or we go and condition more and we run,” Bubba Summers said.
Bubba Summers has been wrestling since eighth grade, but it is Hernandez’s first year on the mat. Hernandez said he likes meeting new people and attending practice, but said it is difficult to be where he wants to be in the sport. He said he had never tried wrestling before and took it as an opportunity.
“It was just something to try, something to get out of my comfort zone,” he said.
Hernandez and Bubba Summers both participate in other high school sports, and Kirk Summers said that athleticism translates into wrestling. He said Hernandez is far ahead where most of his peers would be with the amount of experience he has had.
“Manny is a very talented athlete,” Kirk Summers said. “This is his first year wrestling, but he is picking it up so fast.”
Bubba Summers said for him, traveling to Terreton and missing out on practice time is a challenge. He said he also expects wrestling competitors from larger schools will be difficult, since they “tend to be better.” Nonetheless, he said his goal is to take first at both districts and state this year.
“I’ve placed at state the last two years, sixth my sophomore year and fifth my last year, and I want a shot at taking first this year,” he said.
Brett Murdock, who coached both Hernandez and Bubba Summers in football, said he is proud of both of the boys for putting in the additional effort to wrestle. He said in places like Clark County, those opportunities are not always readily available.
“I think that’s an issue for all our small schools, how do we keep rural sports going?” Murdock said. “We have to start these little co-ops.”
From now until districts, Summers and Hernandez will be part of the team, and the points they gain will affect the team as a whole. At district and state, by rule, the two boys will separate from the team and compete as individuals.