Three alumni took time from their vacation Wednesday morning to rekindle old memories inside the KHS mat room.
Southern Oregon University’s Jimmy Eggemeyer, Jamestown College’s Marlon Branson and former college All-American David O’Brien were present for Kodiak’s holiday practice.
They weren’t just in the room — they were grappling with current Kodiak wrestlers.
“It is kind of fun,” Eggemeyer said. “You get your workout in. It is different for sure after wrestling in college and coming back and wrestling with high school kids, but I like it.
“I usually push the guy that I am going with,” he added. “They work a lot harder when I am working out with them.”
Senior Charlie Johnson had the pleasure of spending more than two hours bouting with Eggemeyer. The two were drenched in sweat afterwards.
“He makes it tough. I get frustrated,” Johnson said.
He also said it will benefit him in the long run, as the team approaches the final month of the season.
“Wrestling with Marlon and Jimmy, they help you, especially if you mess up on something. It is nice to have them here,” Johnson said.
Eggemeyer — decked from head to toe in Southern Oregon gear Wednesday — is fresh off a sixth-place performance at 149 pounds at the Reno Tournament of Champions on Sunday.
“I was pretty pleased with that for sure,” Eggemeyer said. “It was a tough tournament with a lot of Division I wrestlers.”
Out of Eggemeyer’s six victories on Saturday, he said beating the 149-pounder from his former school, the University of Wyoming, was satisfying.
“It was kind of cool,” he said. “My old coaches were over there. That was the highlight of the weekend.”
Eggemeyer will practice with Kodiak a couple more times before heading back to Oregon on Dec. 27.
Branson is in Kodiak until Dec. 29 and just like Eggemeyer, he was also dressed in his school colors.
“It is a good workout. It is nice to see that the team is doing better since when I was here,” Branson said. “I enjoy helping them out a little bit.”
Branson is just lucky to be wrestling again.
Last season, as a sophomore, he was paralysed for five minutes after landing on his head during a match.
“It was kind of scary, but once I got my toes back, I knew it will come back. I knew I wasn’t paralysed after that,” Branson said.
Branson’s injury was diagnosed as central cord syndrome. He had nerve and disc damage and didn’t get full function in his arms back for two weeks.
“My arms were in pain for two weeks — to touch or move — so I just kept them by my side,” he said.
Branson has fully recovered and is 7-7 to begin his junior season at Jamestown College in North Dakota.
“It has been a while, but I am back, finally,” Branson said.
Kodiak coach Pat Costello welcomes former athletes to come practice with the team.
“They can grab a wrestler 1-on-1 and show them things that we don’t always get to,” he said. “They can usually break the high school kid if they wanted to, but most of them will let the high school kid wrestle and correct it as they go.”
The team continues practices today, Friday and every day next week beginning at 10 a.m.
Contact Mirror writer Derek Clarkston at sports@kodiak