Evan Bain understands the commitment that wrestling takes now, but it was not something that he was initially ready to dive into head first.
He described his first impression of the sport as, “iffy,” saying that he dipped his toes in the water in his introduction to it.
Although he hesitated to embrace the grind in the beginning, Bain is grateful that his father passed his passion along to him at a young age.
When he was 7 years old, Bain would go over to Shelby Charter Township (Mich.) Eisenhower High, where he would wrestle with kids in middle school for four hours at a time.
“I really liked it,” Bain said. “I practiced right after school for four hours. The sun would set. I would go home, and my dad and I would practice in the basement. We had a wrestling mat, as well. We still have it.
“Seeing it now, I’m so grateful that my parents, [Mark and Andrea], did that for me. Back then, I wasn’t too sure about wrestling. Just because I [was starting] … I was kind of iffy on it. I wanted to roll around with my friends.”
Bain arrived at Huntington Beach High and entered the wrestling program. Oilers coach John Morgan felt that Bain was not fully committed to the sport as a freshman.
Back then, there were other things tugging at Bain, who had a background in acting. He remembers being in a few commercials for Volkswagen and Subaru, and he also said he was in a music video with Ellie Goulding.
“It really helped me getting out of my shell, talking to people, especially when you move across country,” said Bain, who has since stopped acting. “People are definitely different from there to here, so that kind of helped me adapt to the people out here.”
In his sophomore year, Bain began to dream about joining the names on the walls of the Huntington Beach wrestling room. One wall is for individual league champions. Another is for wrestlers who place sixth or better in the CIF Southern Section individual wrestling championships.
Morgan saw a kid that was ready to put the glamour of acting aside and focus on his goals within the sport. He challenged Bain to get into better shape so that he would not “gas out” on the mat.
“He was like, ‘Look at me, Coach. I’m in shape. I’ve got a six pack,’” Morgan said of Bain. “I’m like, ‘Dude, you were born with that six pack. What do you want? A natural six pack or a hard-working eight pack?’
“He kind of understood what I meant by that. He is always going to be naturally athletic, right, but how much work does he want to put in to see how great of an athlete he can be.”
Bain, a junior 138-pound wrestler, is now one of three captains on the squad. He is joined by seniors Cole Royster (152) and Kolby Lane (170).
Within that role, Bain says that there is room for open discussion and additional ideas from others. His belief is that openness helps to foster a team atmosphere, one which will make teammates want to work hard for each other.
That gives others like Matt Veyette, a senior 182-pounder, a voice in the Oilers’ wrestling room.
“Consistency is what I try to push a lot,” Veyette said. “A lot of times, people will go through conditioning, or we will go through a long practice, and if I’m going to say anything about that, it’s, ‘Do it. Do all of it. Do the whole thing. Don’t stop.’
“I try to get every wrestler that I can to not goof around. I try to help them stay focused on the mat, embrace the grind instead of falling off of it.”
On the whole, the Huntington Beach wrestling program has been on the rise. The Oilers ended a 28-year league championship drought last week, beating host Newport Harbor 52-22 on Jan. 8 to cap an undefeated run through the Wave League dual meet season.
Bain recorded a second-period pin against Newport Harbor’s Aidan Gassel at 145 pounds, which helped the Oilers erase a 13-0 hole on team points to start the match.
“Having the team there, it also is a huge contribution to what [drives] you, what [drives] me out there,” Bain said of the Oilers producing a full lineup this season. “I want to do good for them. You’re wrestling out there alone, but the team score, it helps out everyone, especially when you win. When you can contribute to that score, it’s a really good feeling.”
Bain enjoys do-it-yourself projects, including working on cars and motorcycles. As a captain, however, he is glad that his team has decided to work together to create an unforgettable season.
“It’s definitely a good feeling that everyone else kind of has the same mind-set as me, the dedication,” Bain said. “To me, because it is a team sport, you need everyone to think about that. It almost comes natural to us now.
“I came here freshman year, and people that joined with me, we’ve all learned to think that way. Coach has done a great job, not only physically training us, but mentally, to not give up on the mat, stay in shape and eat what you’ve got to eat.”
Born: Jan. 24, 2003
Hometown: Rochester, Mich.
Height: 5 feet 11
Weight: 138 pounds
Coach: John Morgan
Favorite food: Lasagna with sausage and pepperoni
Favorite movie: “Back to the Future”
Favorite athletic moment: Bain remembers winning the novice state championships at 62 pounds within his first two years of wrestling. He said the trophy he came home with was taller than him at the time.
Week in review: Bain recorded a victory by fall in helping Huntington Beach defeat host Newport Harbor 52-22 on Jan. 8. The Oilers won the Wave League championship as a result, their first league title as a program since 1992. Bain also finished as the runner-up in the Juan Enriquez Memorial Tournament at Norwalk John Glenn High on Jan. 4, registering three pins and a decision in advancing to the 138-pound final.
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