APTOS — The Aptos High Mariners finished up Reggie Roberts’ final Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League dual meet season perfectly with a pair of wins over Scotts Valley High and St. Francis High on Wednesday night at home.
In his 20th and final season as a wrestling coach at Aptos, Roberts honored seven seniors before the kids hit the mat on what was an emotional night for all in Mariner blue.
Dozens of former Aptos wrestlers showed for Roberts’ final go-around, and Aptos Athletic Director Mark Dorfman gave a touching speech honoring the longtime coach and teacher who molded the program into a powerhouse in the county, producing 72 individual league champs and several Central Coast Section placers.
Dorfman wasn’t embarrassed to admit that he shed some tears during his address.
“His affection for his wrestlers and his students is 100 percent genuine,” Dorfman said of Roberts. “He’s selfless, he’s humble, he puts their interests first. No one has given more and taken less than Reggie. That’s his nature.”
Aptos honored seven seniors: Evan Carrillo, Hunter Lawrence-Emanuel, Nick Romero, Becca Faulk, Emma Rodriguez, Keegan Dutton-Jones and Justin Torres.
In honor of Roberts, they chose to warmup to Donna Summer’s hit song “Last Dance.”
“We’ve always had a few characters in every class but this whole group is characters,” Roberts said. “That just shows you the personality of this group.”
The Mariners beat Scotts Valley, 72-12, and thumped St. Francis, 72-16, to improve their league dual meet record to 49-1 over the last 10 seasons.
After returning just one individual league champion from last season, it looked like the door might have been open for another SCCAL squad to swoop in and steal control of the league. But Roberts said his senior class did not let inexperience get in their way.
“I looked at our lineup and it was easy to see that we were really green,” Roberts said. “To their credit, they embraced our tradition… They stuck together. I really don’t know how they’ve done it other than following that one word: tradition.”
Roberts started creating that tradition from the moment he took over the program in 1997. Initially a coach at North Providence High in Rhode Island and his alma mater, Leominster High in Massachusetts, Roberts is one of the most respected wrestling coaches in the county, section and state. He was named the NorCal Coach of the Year from wrestling by the California Coaches Association last year.
Dutton-Jones, who cruised to another dual meet win individually against Scotts Valley, said Roberts will be sorely missed in the years to come.
“It’s hard to put it into words how much coach Reggie has helped us grow as people and wrestlers,” Dutton-Jones said. “We all loved having him there every moment.”