Yoe wrestling program taking shape under Keen

There are a total of three small schools across the state of Texas that have wrestling programs - Amarillo River Road and Boys Ranch out of West Texas, and now Cameron Yoe.


The thought of starting the program in Cameron came about a few years ago when cross country coach Dale Keen started teaching wrestling during PE. 


“About a year and a half ago or so, Rico and these guys wanted me to teach them how to wrestle,” said Keen.  “They heard that I was teaching it in PE, and it wasn't going very good there.  Finally, I said show up at six in the morning.  We started teaching them, and they were so enthused.”


2015 was the first time in school-history Cameron competed in wrestling.  This is nothing new to Keen, which started up the cross country program in Cameron 34 years ago.


“In 1982 I started the cross country program here and nobody in our district had it,” said Keen.  “Within about two to three years, everybody had it.  I don't see wrestling catching on quite that quick, but we'll see.”


A new wrestling facility


Not having a facility to practice in had been of the major challenges for the program in the early going.  “We wrestled in one corner of this for a while and we wrestled down stairs for a while,” said Keen.  ‘There was always a conflict with others sports, so we would practice at six in the morning.”


Keen eventually found his spot up above the old gym, which used to be home of an old science lab.  “We had some parents that wanted us to get it going officially, and Coach Rhoades was for it, Mr. Sapp bought into it, and the school board approved it,” said Keen. 


Fast-forward a year or so later, and the transformation was complete.  Now Keen and his wrestlers have the facility they were looking for.  “I had a vision of exactly this.  We would have a wall-to-wall mat room.  I grew up in Colorado and wrestled, so I knew what a wrestling room should look like.  Gary Hollas did most of the work on this and just did fantastic.”


The room is equipped with $5,000 worth of padding plus two storage rooms for equipment.  “This makes all the difference in the world.  Believe me, I'm grateful.  Now, this is like a turnkey operation.”


Building off of 2015


In the inaugural season, Cameron had three mainstays throughout the year.  “Rico Bolivar, Joel Uvalle and Alfredo Ramos are returning, and I expect them to do pretty well,” said Keen.  Last year we had a lot of beginners after a lot of success.  They wrestled on the JV level.”


A year’s experience goes a long way, and that should pay off as the competition expects to be top notch.  “Last year, I petitioned two districts and they would not let us in,” said Keen.  “This year, they could not keep us out because of the realignment.  We'll just have to see.  We are in there with Huntsville, and the College Station and Bryan schools.”


According to Keen, girls wrestling is one of the fastest growing sports in the country, and that is catching on in Cameron.  “Believe it or not, I now have more girls on the team than boys.  I have six girls and five boys.  Maybe when football season is over, I will get some more beginners.”


Becoming a successful wrestler


Looking from the outside in, it may be difficult to understand what makes a good wrestler.  Hard work and dedication come into play, but it goes further than that.


“I think they have to be really coachable and teachable”, said Keen.  “They're going to learn aggression.  Some people have it more natural than others.  You actually have to have a lot of endurance.  I ran college cross country, but the most tired I had ever been in my life is when I crawled off a wrestling mat after wrestling for six minutes.”


More than anything, Keen wants his wrestlers to continually get better day in a day out.  “The nice thing about wrestling is there are a lot of areas you can improve. You can improve your strength, endurance, skill set and flexibility.  There are so many areas that you can work on.” 


2016-2017 Schedule


A full schedule has been set for this season.  Cameron competed in their first tournament on Saturday in Austin and will continue tournament play all the way up until district in February at Huntsville. 


Nov. 18 at Capital City Classic (Austin)

Nov. 19 at S.A. Lee (girls)

Nov. 22 at Bryan Rudder (girls)

Dec. 3 at Ranger JV Invitational (boys, Bryan Rudder)

De. 17 at Doc Hess Invitational (Bryan)

Dec. 30 at Winston Churchill JV (San Antonio)

Jan. 7 TBA

Jan. 14 TBA
Jan. 21 at Cougar Classic (College Station)

Feb. 11 at District (Huntsville)

Feb. 18 at Regional’s (Bryan)

Feb. 25 at State Tournament