Wrestling teams get into the 2012-13 season with an eye on individual wrestlers who have the best shot of repeating as league medalists and moving on to state competition. The Kimball, Tracy and West teams all have experience, with two teams, Kimball and Tracy, bringing on new coaches.
Kimball High Jaguars
Kimball High’s wrestling program was passed from father to son this year. The Jaguars’ new wrestling coach, Tyler Mullen, a 2004 graduate of West High, got into the sport under the guidance of his father, Pete Mullen, the former West High coach.
Tyler, an English teacher at Kimball, is taking charge of the team now that Pete, who started the Kimball program in 2009, has retired.
Kimball placed third in the Valley Oak League last year, after Oakdale and Weston Ranch, but Tyler Mullen is focused on how far each wrestler can advance.
“Our No. 1 concern is the individual sport, especially how they grow during the season and what they’re able to do at the end of the season,” the coach said.
Senior Trent Nicholson is Kimball’s top prospect for California Interscholastic Federation state competition. Nicholson has been to state twice and aims to be a medalist this year. He moved up a few weight classes in summer competition and expects to wrestle at 160 pounds this year.
“It was pretty tough, because the guys were so much bigger,” Nicholson said. “This year is the biggest year, and I’m going to work the hardest.”
Senior Robert Delgado, who placed second at the VOL tournament last year, said he’s confident in his team’s ability to do well in league and section competition.
“We have a lot of new kids who are learning a lot, and we have a lot of returners. We have a pretty stacked team,” Delgado said.
Also returning are junior Reese Chew, who wrestled at 126 pounds last year, and senior Matt Cooper, who wrestled at 195 pounds last year.
Tracy High Bulldogs
Tracy High gets into the wrestling season with a big group of returning San Joaquin Athletic Association medalists and a new coach.
Jonathan Blackwell has taught wrestlers for more than six years, working mostly with the Tracy USA Wrestling club, a group that prepares kids well in advance of high school competition.
Blackwell became an assistant coach at Tracy High for the 2009-10 season, when his oldest son, Zach, was a sophomore. This year, his son Noah, a junior, returns as a team captain after placing second in the SJAA last year in the 152-pound class.
Team captains also include seniors Dalton Gualco, a 120-pound wrestler last year, and Alex Warner, who will wrestle in the heavyweight classes, plus junior Tomaz Landeros, who competed at 138 pounds last year. All three placed third at last year’s SJAA tournament, as did junior Zoheb Bafaiz and seniors James Faile and Chaz Briggs.
Blackwell said that nearly all Bulldog wrestlers are competing to wrestle for the varsity team in dual meets.
“Some of these guys have gotten bigger since last year,” he said. “From 145 to 170, we’re two or three kids deep.”
That gives the Tracy team a chance to finish better than its third-place showing last year, behind Lodi and Lincoln.
Blackwell said that one advantage the Tracy team has this year is experience in summertime competition with USA Wrestling
“We probably had five or six kids working out at Kimball,” he said, noting that wrestlers and coaches from Kimball, Tracy and West regularly practice together.
West High Wolf Pack
West High wrestling coach Carlos Salazar has a group of wrestlers who already know success in Tri-City Athletic League competition.
Leading the team is junior Angel Castillo, who was TCAL champion in his weight class for two years in a row, including the 126-pound class last year. Also back is senior Ron Sasing, who was second in the TCAL in the 106-pound class. Sophomore Modesto Silvestre finished fourth in league, and senior Antonio Orosco, who started wrestling at West and transferred to Tracy High last year, was third in the San Joaquin Athletic Association and is now back at West.
Castillo’s fellow team captains are senior Ricardo Gallardo and freshman Greg Viloria. Salazar noted that Viloria has experience in youth competition and will make an impression right away.
West took second place behind Tokay last year after two years as league champion. Wrestlers with experience from those years expect this year’s team will have its own unique challenges.
“We have a lot of new guys who have a lot of heart, and their endurance is pretty good. They never give up,” Castillo said.
The challenge for West is to get more wrestlers in the upper weight classes.
“The lightweights, we’re going to match up with anybody in the league,” Salazar said.
He added that assistant coach Rudy Carranza has recruited some football players, who are now taking on a new workout routine so they can compete in the heavyweight classes.
Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.