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Sports Archives The Altamont Enterprise, December 3, 2009
Cubillos returns as starter for University of Virginia
By Jordan J. Michael
TROY Matt Cubillos may be Guilderland’s all-time leader in wrestling wins with 168, but he’s learned in a short period of time that competition at a Division I college level is incomparable to that of high school.
Cubillos, a University of Virginia freshman, competed at Hudson Valley Community College on Saturday for the Journeymen/Asics Northeast Duals. The tournament featured 16 Division I programs and nine of those teams were ranked in the top 25.
Cubillos earned a starting spot on the University’s wrestling team at 133 pounds after training extremely hard over the summer. Cubillos participated in his first ever “wrestle-off” to earn the position over another freshman.
“This guy was supposed to wrestle at 133, but he couldn’t make weight. So, it came down to me and this other kid,” said Cubillos after watching a fellow Cavalier teammate wrestle in his place against Hofstra. “We battled for the chance and it definitely was an unfriendly situation. I had never experienced something like that and it was real exciting to get it.”
Cubillos is now 2-4 on the season after going 1-1 on Saturday. He beat Anthony Ricco of Sacred Heart, 4-0, and lost to top-ranked Scott Sentes of Central Michigan in the second round.
Guilderland Head Coach Korey Rogotzke, who helped start the tournament eight years ago, said that Cubillos is the first Dutch wrestler to start at a Division I school as a freshman. That history goes back 49 years.
“This is one of my most exciting days because it means so much to Guilderland,” said Rogotzke. “It’s kind of surreal to sit here and watch him perform in such a huge event. He’s got more opportunities than ever.”
Saturday’s event in Troy started eight years ago with four teams and 200 people watching. Now, 3,000 people flock to Hudson Valley every year to see the tournament. Journeymen is an off-season wrestling club for Section II.
“Cubillos and his teammates grew up watching this event,” Rogotzke said. “Now, we’re watching him.”
Cubillos faces a significant challenge every day, unlike the times he spent on the high school mats. Wins don’t come as easily.
“I’m learning from every match and trying not to get frustrated if I lose,” said Cubillos. “The competition I face can’t even compare to last year. I can’t just go in there and beat people up anymore.”
“I’m getting more comfortable with each match,” Cubillos added. “One at a time.”
Even though Cubillos is learning something new each time he wrestles, he already had an idea of what he was up against by watching his older brother, Mike, compete at Boston University. Mike was in and out of the starting line-up for four years.
“Watching Mike wrestle at a Division I school gave me a lot of confidence,” said Matt Cubillos. “He’s been helping through the process ever since. We talk all the time and he’s there for whatever I need.”
“I’m sure Matt was nervous when he started out, but, once you get a couple of matches under your belt, then it feels just like wrestling again,” said Mike Cubillos on Saturday. Mike is stationed with the Marine Corps about an hour from the University of Virginia’s campus and he’s seen Matt wrestle a few times.
“But he should be nervous because things that make you nervous really mean something,” Mike Cubillos said. “He’s surround by a great group of athletes and staff, so, if he keeps working hard, then he’ll do well.”
Matt Cubillos told The Enterprise that he gets plenty of support from the Virginia team and its staff. However, he still feels a lot of pressure to perform. “My main concern is to not let the team down,” Cubillos said.
Cubillos plans to wrestle with the Cavaliers for four years and maybe even five. It looks like he’s off to an appealing start.
“I guess I can see how other kids at Guilderland could be inspired by me,” said Cubillos when asked about it. “Anyone can come from a small place and do big things. If I did why couldn’t anyone else?”