James Murphy put on a Central Valley varsity boys wrestling singlet for the last time while competing at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament this past week in Stockton.
The top six placers in each weight division secured berths to the CIF State Meet.
"It was a different atmosphere," said Murphy, a 152-pound senior. "It was a lot more serious. I was mentally prepared. I did pretty well for it being my first time going to Masters. I left everything I had on the mat. I met my goal. I deserved to be there."
James compiled a 1-2 record at the Stockton Arena on Friday.
Sonora's Devin Brisco rallied for an 11-8 win over Murphy during their first-round matchup.
"I was winning," he said. "I had a good lead. I tried the same thing twice and it didn't work."
Murphy topped El Camino's Jose Martinez by pin (4:33) in the consolation bracket.
"I was better at my technique," he said. "I was physically more fit."
James was eliminated from the tournament by Vista del Lago's Andrew Reese.
Murphy lost by major decision (8-0) to Reese.
"I knew I couldn't take a single second off," Murphy said. "He just ended up being better. It hit me hard once I realized it was the last match I'd get to wrestle in high school. I was emotional."
A four-year member of Central Valley's wrestling program, Murphy reached new heights during his final season with the Hawks.
"I had confidence in my abilities," he said.
James earned his first-ever trip to Masters.
Unseeded, Murphy placed fourth at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV Championships.
He took third at the Western Athletic Conference finals.
"I'm very happy with my overall performance," Murphy said. "I'm proud of how I did. I gave everything I had."
James has aspirations to wrestle in college.
"There really isn't a single other sport I'd rather be doing," he said. "Win or lose, there's nobody to blame but yourself."