Jake Elliott is back to try and win his second wrestling state championship for Oakmont High School, but heavyweight Gavin Andrews isn’t back at Granite Bay.
Peter Santos is back, too, but not at Woodcreek, for which he qualified for the state meet last spring. Santos transferred to Oakmont. Woodcreek still has five quality freshmen, on both ends of the scale, ready to start their careers.
Here is a local look at the wrestling season:
New head coach Robert Cooley said Andrews, who has verbally committed to play football at Oregon State, wouldn’t wrestle this season.
Andrews was a state qualifier as a sophomore and last season shed 55 pounds post football to make the 285-pound maximum. This season, football extended into December for the Grizzlies, who won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship with the 6-foot-6 Andrews anchoring the offensive line.
Granite Bay also is missing state meet qualifiers Johnny Cooley (shoulder surgery) and Andrew Broadland but remains stocked with experience and depth.
State qualifier Adam Wagner (152 or 160 pounds), Ian Mook (145), Daniel Flinders (138), Shane Saylor (132) and junior Sean Brown (126) each has just one loss this season.
The Grizzlies won the Sierra Foothill League title and advanced to the Division II team duals final last season.
“That’s our goal, to get back and do better, to accomplish more than we did last year,” Cooley said.
- Bill Poindexter
Coach Dave Wells said having Santos (7-1) at Oakmont is good for Elliott, too, because it allows them to work out together.
Wrestling last season at 135, Santos won four matches in a row at the state meet after losing his opener.
The Vikings return senior Yianni Athens (126), Capital Valley Conference champ Zach Sidhu (220) and sophomores Kaleio Romero (138) and Michael Allard (120).
Wells said Oakmont will split its team for tournaments that best suit its wrestlers for the regular season and prepares them for the postseason.
Elliott and Santos recently wrestled in the Zinkin Classic in Fresno with Elliott winning at 152 and an injured Santos advancing to the final at 160. Elliott is 8-0 this season.
The whole team is in the Sierra Nevada Classic today and tomorrow in Reno, and the whole team will compete in the Tim Brown Memorial in January at the Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento.
“We have a lot more kids this year,” Wells said. “We used to go to tournaments and never even think about the team score, and we were two points from winning the Vista (del Lago) tournament (Dec. 3).”
- Bill Poindexter
Coach Jeremiah Miller is building much more than a wrestling stable at Roseville.
He feels that by fostering leadership, the wrestling will come. Brandon (126) and Ryan Fratto (220), both medalists at the Marty Manges Invitational on Dec. 17, figure to anchor a squad that Miller feels could send as many as seven to the state meet.
Miller said he also expects solid contributions from Jon Maroon (126), Vince Clark (145) and Austin Finerty (171). Ryan Fratto, Maroon and Finerty won matches at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet last season, an event the Tigers hope to send seven competitors to this season.
The Tigers certainly will get a good primer in a rough-and-tumble Sierra Foothill League featuring Granite Bay and Del Oro, which return plenty of talent from top-five Masters squads a year ago.
Despite that returning talent, Miller said he expects Roseville to compete for the top spot in the SFL.
- John Parker
Though it returns some experienced grapplers, sophomore James Gomez (113) and seniors Austin Mason (138) and Kyle Morris (152) among them, Woodcreek will be marked by a youth movement.
Gomez, Mason and sophomore Andre Zumarin (160) all qualified for the Masters meet last season, and Mason ran in the fall for Woodcreek’s cross country team, which qualified for the CIF Championships in Fresno.
Timberwolves coach Doug Mason said Morris, a senior, “finally has the cardio to match his strength.”
Mason said as many as five freshmen may take the mat in varsity competition this season, headlined by promising youngster Dominic Balmer.
Balmer was fifth in Northern California last season at 235 pounds and carries the same weight into the heavyweight class, fearlessly taking on competitors three years older and up to 50 pounds heavier.
Mason also feels freshman Cam Young (120) has the potential to turn heads, and freshman Isaiah Foster (126) has shown his talent in practice.
- John Parker