And then he was gone.
An error in judgment led to the then-junior being suspended from the team, and Climmons missed out on the chance at winning a second-straight region traditional championship, and with that, consecutive state championships.
It was a poor decision Climmons said he regretted and lived with every day. He understands, however, that he had to learn from it and move on.
“I definitely regret what I did,” said Climmons, who declined to go into specifics. “I embarrassed myself, my parents, Pope, my teammates, my coaches — everybody. It’s not what my coaches taught me. It’s not what my parents taught me.
“Everything happens for a reason. It was a humbling experience. It showed me that things that are important to you can get taken away if you don’t do the right thing. I have to make better decisions.”
Climmons’ redemption begins today when the Region 7AAAAA traditional championship gets under way at Creekview.
“What he did affected the coaches, the team, his family and his friends,” Pope coach Jim Haskin said. “It was a goofy mistake that, fortunately, pushed him on the right path.”
“I know Brooks wants to win state again. He wants to redeem himself and get past that indiscretion, and he’s doing what he can to make the best of his future.”
Climmons’ future appears to be quite bright. He is 32-0 on the season and has been the No. 1-ranked wrestler in the nation at 182 pounds, according to Amateur Wrestling News, for much of the season.
“Technically, in my mind, no one is as good as he is,” Haskin said. “Brooks is at a different level. He’s been on the grandest stages nationally and has proven that every time. He’s an all-American and a fantastic wrestler. This last goal is for him to win state.”
Climmons doesn’t shy away from his lofty national ranking. He also doesn’t feel like he has to go out and prove that it’s warranted. He just wrestles to be the best he can be.
“I don’t feel any pressure of having to live up to that ranking,” said Climmons, who has committed to wrestle at the U.S. Air Force Academy. “With the partners that I have to wrestle against in practice, it’s like wrestling in a state championship match every night and day. I’m ready for these next three weeks.”
An injury to his right knee around Christmas put Climmons on the shelf for a while, but he returned last Saturday for Pope’s match against Archer, which he won in a forfeit.
“He hadn’t wrestled since Christmas, so there is a question of how good a shape he’s in,” Haskin said. “He just needs to get through the next three weeks. His last goal is to win state.”
Climmons is ready for the moment once again. Missing out on his opportunity last year is now behind him, and his focus is on this season and being a better person.
“I feel confident,” Climmons said. “It’s my senior year, and I want to go out on top. I just want to be a better person and wrestler as a whole and make up for last year.”