Despite initial start Kirk stays humbled

Monica Gallardo, Sports Copy Editor

Standout athletes usually dedicate their life to a sport at an early age, learning the basics and mastering them throughout the years.

That is not the case for Cerritos College wrestler Dustin Kirk.

“Honestly, I had no idea what wrestling was my freshman year of high school. I started wrestling around sophomore year and I didn’t really get into it until my junior year, so I’m still pretty fresh at it,” he said.

Kirk was encouraged by his uncle, a former wrestler, to join the Elsinore High School wrestling team in an effort to turn his life around.

“I would say, sixth grade through freshman year, I was just a bad kid. I had a 0.8 grade point average and I got it up to 3.6 in order to wrestle and started getting more focused in classes,” he said.

Despite losing the first 11 matches of his debut season, Kirk went on to place fourth at the California Interscholastic Federation Championships during his junior year at 120 pounds, and took first place as a senior.

Now as a Falcon, he is ranked No. 1 in California at 133 pounds and is a captain of the team.

Of the team’s top ranking, he said, “It’s the coaches. They’re great coaches and there are a lot of talented (athletes) on the team.

“There are a couple other captains on the team and we’re all ranked No. 1, and I feel like once everyone does (his) own thing, it brings the team together and we all believe in each other.”

After debating between attending Palomar College and Cerritos College, Kirk decided that Cerritos had the better training partners and coaching facility.

In the future, he hopes to win a state title, earn a Division 1 or 2 scholarship and continue wrestling.

“Other than that, of course I want to get an education and pursue a career; to be successful.”

Coach Don Garriott said, “He’s a true team leader. He leads by example, he’s not afraid to get on someone if (he is) not doing what (he is) supposed to do, he does everything we ask him to do and he never complains.”

Kirk credits his high school coach, Damon Broadbent, for the humble inspiration.

“I looked up to him as someone that I wanted to be like. He was a really good wrestler, he had all kinds of great accomplishments; he won state, and other than that, I think just the person he is – great family and very humble.”

That humbleness has helped Kirk succeed on the mat.

“I stay positive, always study my films, always have a good attitude coming to practice and when I go to a match, I’m always ready, I’m focused.”

Wrestler Jesus Aispuro said, “I always see him at practice every single day and he always goes all out. I’ve wrestled him and he’s a tough guy. He’s a force to be reckoned with.”

Wrestler Luis Pacheco said, “He’s a very humble guy, has good work ethic, he doesn’t know the word ‘quit’ and he has a lot of heart. He’s a good guy as a friend and as a teammate. He comes out here and helps me a lot whenever I need help.”

Kirk cites the physicality as his favorite aspect of wrestling. “I like how it’s physical and one-on-one. You don’t have to rely on your team. Of course, when it’s a dual meet, you and your team are out there, you have to score points, but other than that, it’s individual.”

Off the mat, he is a liberal arts major who enjoys the outdoors, such as hiking and going to the beach, and listening to artists such as Sublime and Rebelution, but spends most of his time improving on his sport.

“I like to go to the gym. I’m always working out, constantly, so wrestling for sure,” he said.