Christian Rains walked off the mat after his final match and tried to fight back some tears. He embraced his coach and then handed him the blue and yellow shoes he had worn since he was a freshman.
There were no more matches for Rains to wrestle for Friendswood. He wanted Michael Lowe to have them forever.
Then it was Lowe’s turn to try to stop crying.
When Rains pinned his final opponent to claim fifth place at the Class 6A state championships Saturday it signaled the end of an era for Friendswood. Rains and his older brother Bradley have played the most pivotal role in the program progressing under Lowe.
When Lowe took over as the coach four years ago he didn’t know anything about the sport. The Rains brothers had plenty of experience when they moved from Oregon so they helped Lowe learn on the fly.
“You can’t put into words what those boys mean to Friendswood wrestling,” Lowe said. “Both of them are the finest young men you’ll ever meet. If they never won a match for us I’d still be proud to be their coach.”
Bradley Rains won two state titles for Friendswood, but other than that the teams’ success has not been noteworthy on a statewide level. Back home in Galveston County, however, the Mustangs had plenty to show for their effort.
End of an era
Finishing on the podium: Friendswood senior Christian Rains ended his wrestling career with a fifth-place finish at the state tournament.
More than a medal: Rains’ career means more to Friendswood than one can accomplish at a single tournament. Christian and his brother, Bradley, helped coach Michael Lowe elevate the program to respectability.
No more matches: Both Rains brothers are done with wrestling. Bradley is a student at Baylor this year. Christian hopes to get into Stanford.
When Lowe took over there were eight kids on the roster. This season the Mustangs had in the mid-30s. Christian Rains said one of the biggest things he’ll take from his time at Friendswood was Brint Galey‘s performance this season.
Galey was one of the kids the Rains and Lowe took under their wing and guided him from having only a little experience to being a state qualifier this year despite not even qualiyfing for regional last year. Galey placed fourth at the regional tournament so he had to face a regional champion in the first round at state. Galey only lost by two points.
“The impact (the Rains brothers) have had on their teammates, on me, on the school and on the sport is immeasurable,” Lowe said. “The kids we have now are dedicated.”
Christian said the early going was tough because not many kids knew what they were doing. Everybody stuck with it and got the team to a respectable spot. This year the Mustangs finished second in their district to always strong Westside.
Christian concluded his senior season with a 40-5 record and a regional championship. There was hope he could win the state title at 195 pounds but a 5-3 overtime loss in the semifinals ended that run.
His final match did end in a fitting way. After taking down his opponent he used his trusty double wrist move to turn him. Then he used a finish similar to an arm bar to finish him off.
Christian is good enough to wrestle for a Division II college, but he has no interest in that. Instead, he hopes to get into Stanford and eventually go into business management.
“I’m so burned out,” he said. “It’s tough to go on. Every day is a grind in this sport. I have wrestled for 14 years. It’s tough because this was my last match and I know I’m done.”