Cimato and Kent have been key cogs in the Explorers' recent run of dominance, in which the program has won the last four Catholic League and District 12 championships. In that time, 15 La Salle wrestlers have qualified for the state tournament. Seven times an Explorer has medaled.
But no Explorer since the Catholic League's inclusion in the PIAA in 2008-09 has won a state title. With the tourney a little more than three weeks away, Cimato and Kent, fittingly, appear equally among the favorites to take first place.
"We've been close, but we've never had gold there," La Salle coach Richie Gebauer said. "These guys, regardless of the outcome at the end of the year, they're putting themselves in the position to win a state championship."
Former Explorer Shane Springer (now at Norristown) made a surprise run to the silver medal in 2010 as a sophomore at 152 pounds, the same year Kent took third at 125. Last season, Cimato earned a bronze at 140 pounds.
Despite the strong showings, only liberal estimations ever predicted that a La Salle grappler was a legitimate first-place contender. This season, with both ranked inside the top three at their respective weight classes by PA Power Rankings, Cimato 36-2 record at 145) and Kent (36-4 at 152) - barring monumental upsets in the district or regional qualifying tournaments - will venture to Hershey as clear-cut gold-medal challengers.
"They were both focused last year, but there's just a different type of intensity out of them this year - different type of focus," Gebauer said. "They know what their goals are. They both obviously want to win state championships. They know it's a possible feat."
Contact Evan Burgos at firstname.lastname@example.org.