Most Viewed Stories
- Change of plea hearing delayed for ex-Yuma dancer
- Police seek timeline of days leading up to woman's death
- New trial date set and plea agreement accepted in baseball bat murder case
- Man who robbed Foothills bank sentenced to nearly 20 years in federal prison
- Man accused of trying to smuggle almost $1M worth of cocaine
Cibola's Jaimes chases dream, helps Raiders run the table at Kofa
Like any ambitious wrestler, Rafael Juan Jaimes has lofty goals.
One of the Cibola junior's goals is to win the state title at the 103-pound division.
He got one step closer after helping the Raiders win the first city championship at Ernest F. Rillos Gymnasium on Wednesday. Rafael Juan Jaimes recorded pinfalls in three of his four wins, spending a total of 6 minutes and 19 seconds on the mat.
What separates him from most is that his father, Rafael Jaimes, had no plans for him to follow in his footsteps.
“I didn't want him to feel the pressure,” the father said.
Rafael Juan Jaimes said he started wrestling in the seventh grade at Centennial Middle School.
His father, however, remained silent. The only hint he gave his son was telling him that he wrestled once. The younger Jaimes thought nothing of it.
Rafael Juan Jaimes instantly became a success as he won the city championship his first year. Shortly afterward, his father had a secret to reveal to him.
“He told me that he was the first state champion at Cibola,” the son said. “I was like, ‘Wow.' I never knew that up until then. Like a day after, he took me to the wrestling room and I'd see his picture up there. I've looked up to that since then.
“The first thing I remember is asking him, ‘Why didn't you tell me this before?' He goes, ‘Well, I didn't know if you were going to get a passion for it or if you were just trying it out.' Two years before that, I was playing soccer and I liked it.”
Rafael Jaimes won the state title in the 112-pound class in 1993.
In his son's first two years at Cibola, he finished fourth at state both times. While that may seem like an accomplishment for many, it wasn't the case for Rafael Juan Jaimes. He wanted more. His father, an assistant coach at Cibola since his son was a freshman, had to temper his expectations.
“He kind of got a little discouraged,” the father said. “But I told him, ‘Hey, you're just a sophomore. You got two more years ahead of you.'”
But last week, Rafael Juan Jaimes might have turned the corner.
At the Flowing Wells Invitational, Rafael Juan Jaimes defeated Marcos de Niza's Frank Armenta to win the tournament's 103-pound division. The year before, he was on the losing end, which negatively affected his self-esteem.
A couple of days before the victory, Rafael Juan Jaimes received the tourney bracket. After careful observation, he realized he would have a rematch with Armenta, who finished second at state last year, if everything went as planned. He said he became anxious thinking about the rematch. Rafael Jaimes had to calm his son down.
“My dad told me, ‘I've seen you wrestle. There's no reason why you can't beat this kid. He may be stronger and bigger, but you're a lot tougher and I think you're a way better wrestler,'” the son said. “Those words just kept going through my head.”
After the win, Rafael Jaimes said his son told him he has never felt so great.
Rafael Juan Jaimes said the only thing that can stop him now is if he broke down mentally again. From what Cibola coach Mike Jankowski can tell, that might not happen.
“Right away, he controls the match, he gets that first takedown,” Jankowski said. “He starts grinding on him, he gets the (body) turned right away. I mean he's always looking to score.”
Cheng Sio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6866.