2021-2022 Varsity Results
Week 14 Results (State Championships):
Well, the season is over and we finished off by wrestling at the state championships. Without a doubt, California has the toughest state tournament in the country. We are 1 of only 2 states in the United States that has a single state championship – a true state championship. Every other state has multiple divisions so they are watered down. In addition to that, California has more wrestlers than any other state and we regularly have some of the most talented wrestlers in the country (top 3 state for sure). SO, making it to this tournament is a huge accomplishment and is something that each person will carry with them for the rest of their life.
Unfortunately, I tested positive for Covid, literally 1 hour before we were scheduled to leave for Bakersfield, on Wednesday. Thankfully, we have some awesome parents and coaches on our staff who stepped up and got our team to the state tournament and coached them all weekend. I want to thank Mario DiBenedetto and his wife, Amanda, for loaning one of their cars to the team for us to drive the team down. Thank you! We were struggling to find rides and they stepped up for us. Pete Hedrick and Mike Nishimura took over for me for the 2nd weekend in a row and they truly put my mind at ease. I didn't have to deal with anything and Pete and Mike took care of everything for me. I am truly grateful for them. Thank you.
This year, Bella Vista brought 3 girls and 1 boy to the tournament! Having 4 qualifiers is very impressive. 2 of our qualifiers are seniors, one is a sophomore, and the other is a freshman. We ended up with 2 state medalists! Amaya Yoshizumi finished in 6th place and Gianna DiBenedetto finished in 7th place.
Amaya Yoshizumi was completely disrespected and did not get seeded in the tournament after an amazing season and a 2nd place finish at Masters. However, that did not matter. Amaya pinned her first opponent and then went up against the #5 seed who was a Masters Champion from the Central section. Amaya was not intimidated and she wrestled fantastic and pinned her opponent in the 2nd period for the win. Amaya has a history in Judo and she is amazing when it comes to upper body wrestling and throws. We knew these girls were afraid to go upper body at the state championships and we had a game plan to use Amaya's skills. This win put Amaya into the quarterfinals against the #4 seeded wrestler in the tournament. Just like her previous match, Amaya did not back down and she took advantage of her opportunity. The winner of this match would make the semifinals and would be be guaranteed to be a state medalist. Amaya had some huge moves and huge throws and dominated her opponent. Amaya won 14-5 and made the semifinals of the state championships! Amaya had a goal all season to become a state medalist and it was awesome to see her achieve her goal after so much sacrifice and hard work throughout Covid and beyond. Amaya did not miss a practice in our shortened season last spring, in the summer, fall, and winter seasons. She also went to as many tournaments as possible throughout the shut down. Amaya definitely earned this. On the final day Amaya had some really tough, close matches and finished in 6th place. Amaya ended up as a 2x state qualifier for Bella Vista. Don't forget that she had her junior season canceled so she achieved all of this in only 3 years. It's been an honor to coach her and she is getting recruited to wrestle in college. Congratulations! I have no doubt that Amaya is going to do some great things in her life.
Emma Ford, only a freshman, started the season with the goal to win 1 match the entire season. Emma had early success and was truly committed to everything related to BV wrestling all season long. I coach a kids club at Carnegie a couple nights a week and Emma even volunteered a lot of her hours at Carnegie after the high school practice where she made a positive impact on future BV wrestlers. Emma was very small for her weight class and she went up against some big girls who were juniors and seniors and very strong at the state championships. Emma ended up winning 2 matches and finished with a 2-2 record at state - an amazing accomplishment for a freshman. Especially a freshman who had a goal to win 1 match. Emma is already training in the offseason and finished in 3rd place at the 16-under state championships in Fresno a week after the season ended. Congratulations.
Gianna DiBenedetto started this tournament as the #7 seed and finished as a 7th place medalist! Gianna pinned her first opponent and then ran into a hammer. Gianna lost her 2nd match and that girl went on to beat the defending world champion in her next match and made the finals. Gianna did not plan to lose, but she responded with true resilience. Gianna would have to win 3 matches in a row to become a medalist, and that is exactly what she did. Gianna then lost a close match with some controversial reffing and that put her in the 7th place match. In her last match of the season, Gianna wrestled loose and free and dominated her way to a 13-4 victory. Gianna had an amazing season and she is only a sophomore - don't forget that the wrestling season was canceled during her freshman year due to Covid. One thing some people might not know about is that Gianna wrestled in the varsity lineup for our boys team and beat every other male, varsity wrestler in our league at 138 lbs. We had a few duals where we found ourselves losing prior to G.'s match and then she would win and create some amazing momentum. Gianna trains and competes year round and she is going to improve a LOT before next season. Like I mentioned above, there is no way to replicate the way it feels to wrestle and compete at the State Championships; each person has to experience it for themselves. Now that Gianna has this season under her belt, combined with a full offseason of training and competing at national tournaments, she will be a top contender to become a state champion next year.
Elijah Shaw only started wrestling as a freshman, 3 years ago. Elijah was a JV wrestler his freshman year and then he competed for our Varsity B team as a sophomore (we had 2 full, legit teams that season). Elijah placed at a couple different varsity tournaments as a sophomore and we were excited for his future and then Covid hit. Elijah missed his entire junior year of high school sports but he responded in an amazing way. Elijah put in a strong offseason and even went to a wrestling camp in Gilroy over the summer. In the fall of his senior year, Elijah played just about every single play (offense and defense) for our football team and was their best player. Elijah went right into wrestling when football ended and he had an amazing season. Elijah finished in 1st place at the Elk Grove tournament, 3rd place at Casa Roble, 1st place at Corning, he was a League Champion after winning the CVC League Championships, he was a Section finalist, he was a Masters medalist, and he was a state qualifier. At state, Elijah got a tough draw and had the #5 seed in his first match. Elijah competed great but lost. In his next match, Elijah was winning the entire match and then made one small mistake with less than 15 seconds left in the match and got put to his back for only 2 seconds and lost by points when time expired. This was an absolutely gut-wrenching way for his season to end but it does not define him. It has been a true pleasure to be Elijah's coach and I have no doubt that he is going to achieve some amazing things in his life.
Well, what a season we had. Coming back to wrestling after last season was canceled due to Covid was extremely challenging (last year's team had 5 returning state qualifiers, 3 other wrestlers who finished in the top 12 at Masters, a masters Medalist, and multiple Masters qualifiers. These kids had been wrestling together since 4th grade and they lost their senior year due to Covid. Everybody was absolutely devastated and last season broke my heart). To be honest, the requirements to run our program during a typical season max out my time and energy - but I love coaching and I find it very rewarding. Adding in the impact that Covid had on last year's team and this year's team almost completely broke me. Luckily, the kids on our team this year were/are amazing. I love them. if it wasn't for them I would have probably lost my mind. I was asked all season long by friends, family, colleagues, other coaches, etc. about how the season was going and I always responded by saying that I was getting burned out but I absolutely LOVED this team. They are a great group of humans and I appreciate them so much. This season saw the cancelation of a LOT of tournaments and we even had to cancel the middle school tournament that we host, which is our only Fundraiser. I'm working on some ways to fundraise and will let you all know ASAP. That's it and we are going to start our spring season in a few weeks and start working towards next season!
BOYS and GIRLS MASTERS CHAMPIONSHIPS (2/18/22 - 2/19/22)
The Masters Championships just concluded and this tournament, as per normal, took all of us on a roller coaster of emotions – high, low, and every direction in between. This tournament literally has the best wrestlers in the SJS section, which ranges from Yuba City to Merced, Grass Valley to Vacaville, and everywhere in between. In addition to that, the girls absorb the entire Northern section, which makes this tournament even more challenging for them. We have the 3rd or 4th toughest section in the state, so these wrestlers are legit.
I want to start out by saying that our starting line up for the postseason had zero boys that had ever wrestled in a playoff match before and only 2 girls who had wrestled in the postseason before. The postseason is a different animal and there's no way to replicate it; each person must participate in it. We have a handful of juniors, a couple freshman, and a sophomore who are returning starters for next year and they will be tremendously better because of their experiences during this year's postseason.
The Masters tournament got off to a rough start for me. I stayed in the hotel with the team and woke up at 3 am extremely sick. I could barely walk the team to weigh-ins and sat alone in the stands but I had to return to bed before weigh-ins even started. Luckily, our team is full of amazing humans and great leaders and they did not need me there during weigh-ins or warm ups. I called home and my wife told me that my oldest daughter had been sick all night and I was getting worse so I decided to drive home before I couldn't drive. Coach Hedrick and Aaron Keough took over for me in the morning and I'm extremely grateful for them. When I was leaving, Aaron reminded me about something I said at the parent meeting: "As a coach, one of my goals is to coach the kids so well in the practice room that I could literally sit in the stands and not be in their corner during their matches because we prepared so well." That made me feel better and I feel like that was the truth. Plus, I have some amazing help. Mike Nishimura showed up in the afternoon and the previous BV coach, Mike Lee, offered to help coach on Saturday. Gianna DiBenedetto even offered for her dad to help coach (he runs a wrestling club year round that has put out a lot of very successful wrestlers).
Trust me, it hurt to leave. Tremendously. I was, and I am, extraordinary sad that I wasn't at Masters. We brought 11 boys and 4 girls and qualified 1 boy and 3 girls to state. I wish I was with each person when their season ended and I feel terrible that I wasn't there. Having said that, I know that I made the right decision to leave. FYI - I've tested negative 3x in 2 days and I'll keep testing every day. Finally, here are the summaries. I watched a play by play on Trackwrestling.com and got some details from the coaches who were there.
Brodi-Herron Williams was supposed to have an amazing draw after beating the #23 in state at Sections and then finishing in 2nd place. He honestly got the worst draw for Masters that I've ever seen for a finalist. Brodi was ranked #30 in state coming into this tournament and his first match was against another ranked kid from Oakdale. Oakdale's team finished in 2nd place and every single wrestler on their team is exceptionally good at wrestling. Brodi took an early lead but ultimately lost in a close battle. Brodi won his next match and then went up against the Ponderosa kid who beat Brodi 3-1 with a last second takedown. This kid ended up taking 3rd in the tournament and in the matches after he beat Brodi he pinned 3 kids and beat another kid 12-4. Brodi had an amazing senior year and an amazing career. It's been a pleasure to coach him, to get to know him as a person/athlete, and to get to know his family. He will be missed.
Logan Marlatt missed most of the season due to injury but he came on strong during the postseason. Logan is a competitor and he always has a chance to win because he's also very good at pinning his opponents. In his first match, Logan was losing 1-7, got in a scramble, put his opponent on his back and got the fall! Logan then lost to an Oakdale kid (see Brodi's summary) and then lost a close match at the end when his head wasn't really in it. Logan stayed to watch the entire tournament and he is hungry to put in a full offseason. I'm excited to see his growth during the offseason. The sky is the limit - he just has to put in the work.
Vince Nguyen was wrestling up 2 weight classes during the postseason and improved as a wrestler every single day during this year's postseason. Just to get to Masters he beat a kid who had dominated him the week before that. Unfortunately, Vince drew a kid from Oakdale in his first match and lost by fall. The kid from Oakdale got first in the tournament and pinned his opponent in the finals in 9 seconds (Vince lasted way longer than that!). Vince then won his next match and then fell to an experienced wrestler. Going 1-2 at Masters up 2 weight classes is very impressive. Vince missed last year and was JV the year before that - very impressive! Vince will put in a big offseason and improve a lot before next season.
Ethan Lopez has battled all year long and he had an awesome tournament. Ethan won more matches at the Masters tournament than he did all season long - amazing! Here's a kid who battled all year long, fought through a lot, and then goes 2-2 at the toughest tournament of the season. Ethan missed a year due to Covid and was JV his freshman year, so this is a huge improvement. Ethan will put in a big offseason and improve a lot before the start of next year.
Christian Giomi showed up in the fall and with very limited wrestling skills. He attended every fall practice (on the softball field) and he even went to a local club tournament on his own and lost all of his matches. Christian only saw those matches as data on how to improve as a wrestler and that is exactly what he did. By the end of the season Christian medaled at the Corning tournament and then he was a league champion! He started the season with very little experience but worked extremely hard and was fully committed and he even became a Masters qualifier - that is something to be extremely proud of. It's been a pleasure to coach Christian this year and we wish him luck with his future endeavors. I hope he comes back to visit and shares his story.
Austin Carroll has wrestled JV as a freshman two years ago and then missed a season due to Covid. Austin attended almost every practice that was available in the last spring, summer, and fall. He was very committed this season and benefited tremendously from his commitment and buy-in to our program. One way to measure Austin's improvement is that he lost around 30 lbs. this year simply through his commitment to showing up and working hard. Austin was a league champion and then a masters qualifier. I'm so proud of how hard he worked this year. I'm expecting him to commit to a full offseason and even attend a camp this summer. Qualifying for Masters is only part of the process for him.
Elijah Shaw is a perfect example of what can happen when someone buys into our program, attends all of the offseason practices, attends a camp in the summer, and also goes above and beyond with their own training. Elijah was also a star football player and I loved watching him play in the fall. I recommend that all of our wrestlers play at least 1 other sport for BV. Elijah won his first match at Masters by fall, and then he went up against a D4 Section champ who was favored over Elijah. I took a screen shot of the preview where the journalists predicted this kid to easily beat Elijah and I shared it with other coaches in our program (past and present) and all of them told me that they believed Elijah would upset the kid, which he did. Elijah had a comfortable lead at the end and gave up a late takedown but still won 8-7. Elijah then won his quarterfinals match by fall to become an automatic state qualifier. In the semis, Elijah wrestled the #1 wrestler in the state and lost by fall in the first period. Very impressive. Elijah then received a forfeit to the same kid that he "upset" earlier in the tournament and went up against the #4 in state for the 2nd time in 2 weeks. Last week the kid won 12-4 and this time the kid won 5-1. Elijah improved tremendously and that momentum will continue into the state tournament this week.
James Lower went from a low level JV wrestler 2 years ago to a very good wrestler this year because of his hard work, commitment, and resilience. James went to a our offseason practices and he had a rough time to start the season, but his resilience took over and he improved by at least 1% every single day and he trusted in his process. James ended up as a league champion and Masters qualifier! In his first match at Masters, he lost a close match to the kid who ended up finishing in 3rd place. James then won his next match and then fell to another medalist in a very close match. James got a tough draw but he told me that he had more fun at Masters than he did at any other tournament this season. I loved hearing that. James is off to Utah State for college in a few months and his lessons from wrestling will help him with all of his future challenges.
Max Keough was not a starter for the entire season and he was behind Lazar all season long. Unfortunately, Lazar had some health issues that prevented him from wrestling in the post season. We didn't know this until a couple of days before the league tournament and Max stepped in without hesitation when I told him about Lazar. Max surprised everybody and won the league tournament - as a freshman at 195 lbs. That doesn't happen. Max then wrestled well and qualified for Masters; a great experience for a freshman. In addition to that, Max was at practice on the first Monday that followed Masters and he was working hard at wrestling - look out world.
Addison Marcel was another athlete who was JV 2 years ago, took a year off, and then came into the season as a senior with very little wrestling experience. Having said that, Addi's mental approach during his matches was not like anybody else on the team; Addi saw himself in a fight in every single match that he wrestled. To start the season, Addi relied on his athleticism in his matches and did well. By the end of the season, Addi was hitting some moves and had some major success. Unfortunately, Addi got hurt during the week of masters and his injury was so severe that he had to drop out the morning of the tournament. He worked hard all week to compete and even weighed in, but his injury got more severe during warm ups and he couldn't compete. Addi had an amazing season and it was a pleasure to coach him this year. We wish him luck on his path of becoming a firefighter. I know for a fact that wrestling will help him in that pursuit.
Roman Schitik was a student in my Psychology class in the fall, which was very fortunate for him and for the team. One day in September I noticed his size and walked up to him and told him that he's wrestling for us this year. Roman's response was, "Ok." Roman showed up to all the fall practices on the softball field and he had an amazing season. Roman was a fan favorite for the BV wrestlers and he got better every single day. Roman ended up as a league champion and a Masters qualifier - AMAZING! Roman is extremely athletic for his size, he works hard, and he's coachable - all qualities that contributed to his success this year. Roman even won a match at Masters and he was back at practice on the Monday after masters so he could help one of our girls who qualified for state. Very cool. Roman told me that he had more fun than ever as a wrestler this year and he wished he could be on our team again. I love that.
Girls Summaries are in progress.... Please be patient with me - this takes a lot of time. FYI - our girls killed it.
We brought 4 girls to Masters and they finished in 2nd place as a team! Absolutely amazing. This is the best our girls have ever finished at Masters. Congratulations.
Kara Larson battled through a lot all season long and did not get a lot of mat time this season. The lack of mat time made it hard for Kara to keep up with girls who had been wrestling all season long. Regardless, she found a way to qualify for Masters and she even won a match by fall, which helped our team a lot with the team race. Kara is a junior and I have no doubt that she will put in a strong offseason and come back stronger than ever during her senior year. Kara is loved by her teammates and she even stayed at Masters and cheered on all of her teammates after her tournament was over.
Emma Ford, only a freshman, wrote in her preseason goals that she wanted to win 1 match this year. Well, Emma has been extremely committed this year and put in a lot of work, which is a recipe for success. I preach to our wrestlers that the wins will take care of themself if we commit to the process, practices, etc. Emma placed at every tournament and ended up finishing in 3rd place at masters as a freshman! Amazing. Emma is only going to get better and she is excited to compete at the state championships!
Amaya Yoshizumi has worked so hard for so long and all of her hard work has been paying off this postseason. Amaya did not miss a practice over the spring, summer, fall, or winter practices. In addition to that, she went to a wrestling camp, competed in tournaments during Covid, and trained at any gym she could find. Amaya pinned her way into the finals at Masters and lost to one of the top girls in the nation and finished in 2nd place. A lot of hard work went into being a Masters finalist and Amaya is a legit contender to place at state next week. Congratulations to Amaya for finishing as a Masters runner-up!
Gianna DiBenedetto is just like Amaya and she trains year round and she is a complete mat-rat (that's a wrestling phrase for people who are obsessed with training year round). Gianna won regionals, which gave her a great spot in the bracket at Masters. Gianna has been a star all season long and she pinned her first 3 opponents and made the finals. Gianna faced a lot of adversity in the finals when she went against a state ranked wrestler that she had wrestled multiple times this season. This girl came up with a great game plan against Gianna where she tried to keep it close and stall the entire match. The match ended up going into overtime where Gianna got the takedown and the win. Gianna is a 2022 Masters Champion! Amazing for anybody, especially a sophomore who is going through her first experience of high school playoffs ever (no season last year because of covid).
Girls Regionals and Boys D2 Section Championships (2/11/22 - 2/12/22)
I was not at the girls tournament but I do know that they all performed exceptionally well.
Amaya Yoshizumi was the #1 seed of the tournament and pinned all 4 of her opponents to win the tournament. This puts Amaya in a great position in next week's bracket at Masters and this is only the first step on her way to a state medal. Amaya made it to every single practice last spring, summer, fall, and now this winter. She also trained nonstop throughout the year off. Amaya is a mat-rat and her success this season is a direct correlation to all of the hard work she has put in behind the scenes.
Gianna DiBenedetto was the #2 seed and pinned all 5 of her opponents to win the tournament as well. In the finals, Gianna pinned the #1 seed in the first period. Gianna has a goal of becoming a state champion this year and this was only the first step on her way of accomplishing her goal. Gianna trains year round and travels the country in the offseason where she is trying to compete against the best wrestlers in the country and in the world. Gianna has also been an amazing student-athlete at BV and does everything the coaches ask of her. Just like Amaya, there is a direct correlation between Gianna's hard work behind the scenes to the success we see right now.
Annabella Tan had high hopes of making it to the state tournament this year and decided to take a risk and go down to a lower weight class. We do not cut weight at Bella Vista and going down to this weight class proved to be too much. Unfortunately, Bella missed weight and her season is over. it's been a pleasure to coach Bella and this does not define her as a person at all. Bella is going into Pre Med next year and is going to accomplish some amazing things in her life.
Katelynne Hall started out great and won her first 2 matches and then lost to the #1 seed in the quarters. Katelynne had to win her next match to qualify for Masters but fell short. Luckily, Katelynne got to wrestle back for 9th place and won her last 2 matches to finish in 9th place of the tournament. Often times, the luck of the draw has too much power and Katelynne was a victim of this situation in this tournament. Katelynne went 4-2 on the weekend but didn't qualify, but other wrestlers in different weight classes went 1-3 on the weekend did qualify. We can never predict or prepare for those things so it's superfluous to dwell on it but we can recognize and celebrate Katelynne's success.
Kara Larson has fought her way through countless battles this year and made her way into the playoffs. This tournament was representative of her season where Kara had to dig deep to finish in the top 8, which is exactly what she did. Kara finished in 8th place and qualified for Masters.
Emma Ford entered the tournament as the #3 seed and she finished in 3rd place! Emma made her way into the semis and lost a very close match to a girl who is ranked high in the state. Emma then won her next 2 matches to finish her tournament. Emma is not satisfied and she is determined to finish in the top 6 at Masters and become a state qualifier as a freshman.
These girls have been working so hard this year and I'm so proud of them, but we are not satisfied at all. This was merely part of the process of reaching our goals.
We brought 12 boys to the SJS D2 Section Championships and 11 qualified for Masters. Our team also finished in 3rd place, which was awesome. Vacaville (top 5 in the state) finished in first, Turlock (ranked in state), finished in 2nd, and we were in 3rd. Pitman, which is always an amazing team, finished in 4th place and it was a true accomplishment to finish ahead of Pitman.
Brodi Herron-Williams had an amazing tournament and finished in 2nd place. In the semifinals, Brodi went up against a kid who is ranked #23 in state (and the kid had pinned Brodi earlier this season). Well, Brodi turned the tables and pinned his opponent to make the finals in exciting fashion! Although Brodi lost in the finals, he still wrestled well and is looking to continue that into next week and qualify for the state championships. Brodi started out as a young kid in our youth program and his experience has been serving him well during the postseason (and will continue to do so).
Logan Marlatt got a late start to the season but he is hot right now. Logan does not back down to anybody and he always puts up a good fight. Logan won his first 2 matches to make the semifinals and then got caught and lost to a kid who's ranked in the state. Logan's next match was a rematch of the League Championship Finals, which Logan won 10-9, and going into this match we knew that could happen again. Well, this match did not disappoint and Logan won 12-11. Logan lost his last match and finished in 4th place, which is fantastic, but he was disappointed in his performance and wants more. Logan is looking for nothing less than qualifying for the state championships this coming weekend.
Vince Nguyen is wrestling up 2 weight classes from his natural weight class but he doesn't care. Vince gets after it in every single match and he does not back down to anybody. Vince had a rough draw because of his finish at league and he found himself in a match against the River Valley kid where the winner would qualify for the Masters Championships and the loser would have their season ended. This kid beat Vince last week but Vince learned from the previous week and avenged his previous loss and qualified for the Masters Championships! Vince ended up as a 7th place finisher and is looking to continue that momentum into next week.
Ethan Lopez did what he's been doing all season long; finding a way to continue on and advance. Ethan has battled through a lot this season and fought hard to get through the league tournament last week and he fought hard to get through sections and advance to Masters next year. This will bring great experience for Ethan into his senior season next year and if he can commit to the offseason program he will have even more success next year.
Christian Giomi put so many skills together and won his first 2 matches of the tournament, which put him in the semifinals and made him an automatic qualifier for Masters. Christian is a first year varsity wrestler and had just enough self doubt about whether or not he deserved to be in the finals, which caused him to lose a close match in the semis. Christian ended up in 6th place and realized at the end of the tournament that he belongs and that he can beat all of the guys in his weigh. I'm excited to see Christian's growth this next weekend.
Nathan Gregory had a very emotional tournament and was less than 10 seconds away from qualifying for the Masters Championships. One thing we can always count on about Nathan is that he will always give 100% effort in his matches, which is exactly what I ask for in all of my athletes. Nathan is basically a 2nd year wrestler and performed above expectations this season. In his match where the winner qualifies for Masters and the other person's season is over, Nathan was winning by 1 with about 6 seconds left in the match. Nathan was on bottom and his opponent wound up and punched Nathan in the face. That is literally what happened. Nathan looked up towards the ref and his coaches in a natural reaction of looking for help and a response, but the ref missed it and the kid on top took advantage and turned Nathan to his back at the last minute to secure near-fall points for the win. I was screaming at the ref but he was oblivious to what happened. Just so everybody knows, the ref went up to me the next day and apologized for missing the punch to the face (apparently, numerous people and referees went up to him and told him about the absolutely egregious mistake that he made). The coach from the other team even apologized to me about the punch. I wasn't feeling it at the time and told the other coach that he should have pulled his kid from the tournament at that exact moment, which is exactly what I would have done if one of the BV wrestlers had done the same. I'm also very close friends with the top officials in our section who evaluate all officials and they have already heard about this entire situation. Nathan got ______, and it's not an excuse; it's what really happened. Nathan is tough and he will be back next season, better than ever.
Austin Carroll had an awesome tournament and finished in 6th place. Austin had a long road to qualify for Masters and had to get 3 wins to make it to next week. Austin ended up with 4 wins and learned a lot about what's working well for him and he learned a lot about where he needs to improve as a wrestler. If he even makes some minor adjustments to his game this week he will see huge improvements. The thing about competing against better competition is that they will take advantages of the areas we need to get better at, which is awesome because it gives us the data about what we need to work on.
Elijah Shaw has had an amazing season and this tournament was no different. Elijah dominated his first 3 opponents and pinned all 3 of them to make the finals of the tournament. Elijah has made the finals of every tournament this season except one (he lost to the #5 in state and came back to get 3rd). It's extremely difficult to make the finals of this tournament and Elijah made it look easy. In reality, there has been a tremendous amount of hard work that has been put in behind the scenes to get where he's at now. In the finals, Elijah went against the #4 ranked kid in the state from Vacaville. This kid is legit and Elijah did not back down at all. The finals matches were out of order and Elijah's match was first up - after a face off, music, and a ton of hype. Elijah was a little too fired up and soared too close to the sun in the first match but fell down to the water by the 3rd period. Elijah competed so well against the #4 in state that the other kid went out of his way to give Elijah props after the match - that's major respect.
James Lower wrestled exceptionally well and was very close to making the finals of the tournament but lost in his semifinals match after winning his first 2 matches. James won his next match but fell short in his last and finished in 4th place. If we would have told James about his postseason success prior to the start of the season we would not have believed it, but now we aren't even satisfied because we know that he's better than his record. James trusts in his process and he has improved tremendously every single day this season and he's a great example of what can happen when people buy into the program. It's very cool to see his growth this year and to see him not satisfied with a 4th place finish at Sections.
Max Keough, only a freshman, won his first 2 matches and made the semifinals of the section championships. Max was barely favored to get out of league, but he was a league champion. Max trusts in the process and buys into our program, which has resulted in his ability to step into the starting position and achieve some postseason success. Because of his buy-in to our program, Max doesn't back down to anybody and he always gives his best effort (just like the rest of the time). Max had a tough match in the semis and then got caught and lost his next match. In his final match of the tournament, Max was losing early, got an escape, and then he was in an awkward scramble where he had the right "feel' to hip in and put his opponent to his back and secure the fall. To make it even sweeter, Max's final opponent was a kid from Pitman High School and Pitman was very close to passing us in team points. Max's pin secured our 3rd place finish as a team. Max gets better each week and he has some high expectations for himself at Masters.
Addi Marcel was the only person in the tournament to beat a Vacaville wrestler on day 1. Addi made the semifinals after beating the Vacaville kid in the quarterfinals in an extremely emotionally-engaged match. Addi vs. the Vacaville kid on day 1 was the only match in the tournament at the time and every single person in the gym was highly engaged with the outcome of the match. Unfortunately, the ref felt like he was required to assert himself in the match and he gave the Vaca kid a point with less than 10 seconds left in the match to force overtime. Addi didn't back down and then match went into double overtime where Addi ended up winning to make the semis and become an automatic qualifier for Masters! The entire gym was cheering for Addi and it was exciting. These 2 met again in the 5th place matcha and the match went to double overtime AGAIN! AND AGAIN, the ref called Addi for stalling 2x to determine the outcome of the match. I lost my cool and let the ref know that he was wrong after the match and I was willing to get a team penalty because it was so important for the ref to hear how bad he messed up. After the match, I walked outside to calm myself down and another ref went up to me and told me that we got screwed over and that Addi should have won. Then I walked in and the head ref of the tournament told me that the ref made horrible calls and should have never made those calls. Then the actual ref from the match found me and told me that he asked his fellow refs about his calls and they were against the way that he called the match and told me that he got it wrong and that he will be better next time around. I respect that a lot and thanked him for doing that. Regardless, Addi qualified for Masters and he is determined.
Roman Schitik continued to have a lot of success and he finished in 7th place to qualify for Masters after going 3-2 on the weekend. Roman showed a lot of great skills and had a fantastic tournament. In his last match, Roman was dead tired and the match went into overtime after a score of 8-8, which is extremely rare for a heavyweight to have such a high scoring match. Roman was exhausted but it didn't matter and he secured the takedown to win and finish in 7th. The entire team was cheering for him and Roman is a fan favorite.
Our girls and boys will be in the same gym at the same time next weekend and we have a lot of wrestlers who have a legit shot of making it to the State Championships! I'm excited.
League Championships (2/5/22)
Our team performed exceptionally well and won the team portion of the league tournament, which guaranteed us as the sole champion of the CVC league for wrestling. If River Valley finished in 1st place then there would have been all sorts of criteria to try and become co-champions with them, but we took care of business and did not have to go down that route because we won the tournament portion of the CVC League Championships (and the dual meet portion as well). Prior to the last round of matches, River Valley was beating us 213 points to 212 points. After the final round, which consisted of the finals matches and the 3rd place matches, we finished with 260 points and RV finished with 227 points. We brought 12 guys and all 12 of them qualified for the D2 Section Championships at Vacaville High School next weekend. Here's a rundown of how each person did at league
Brodi Herron-Williams entered the tournament as the #1 seed and finished as a league champion. Brodi dominated all of his opponents and was winning by 15 points in the finals before he pinned his opponent. Brodi is looking to continue his momentum into next week and
Logan Marlatt wrestled amazing and finished as a league champion. Logan got the #3 seed and I had to fight for him to even get that spot. He beat the #2 seed in the semis and then had the most exciting match of the tournament in the finals. The entire gym stopped and surrounded Logan's finals match and it was extremely loud from all the cheering a yelling. The match went back and forth and it was tied 9-9 with about 15 seconds left in the match and Logan got an escape and held off a late attack to win. This was one of River Valley's best guys and it is one of the reasons we won the league tournament. I had tons of random fans come up to me and tell me that was the best match they've ever seen. Logan is extremely competitive and refuses to lose.
Vince Nguyen started the season at 113 lbs and had to wrestle at 128 lbs. in the post season because he lost 2 very close wrestle offs. Vince is giving up a ton of size but he refuses to let that intimidate him. He gets after it and had a huge win to qualify for the section championships. This experience this year is definitely going to carry him right into next season and help him a lot for the offseason program.
Ethan Lopez has battled through huge amounts of adversity this year and still refuses to quit. Ethan was beating the #2 seed in the seminfals 4-0 late in the match before he lost by fall. In his 3rd place match, Ethan was battling hard and won by fall in exciting fashion to finish in 3rd place.
Christian Giomi is wrestling the best he's ever wrestled and he finished as a league champion. Christian was a pure JV wrestler 2 years ago, took a year off because of Covid, and then put in a lot of work in the offseason to get better. He's been improving at a steady pace all year and his peaking big time right now. The fact that Christian is a league champion shows how important the offseason program is.
Nathan Gregory won his first match, lost to the #1 seed in the semis, and then battled back to finish in 3rd place in league. Nathan has made huge improvements this season and the experience of the postseason is going to help his momentum in the offseason and then into next year.
Austin Carroll is wrestling very well right now and finished as a league champion. Austin had a very tough opponent in the semis and was trailing early but battled hard to make the finals. In the finals, Austin dominated his opponent and won by fall.
Elijah Shaw has wrestled amazing this season and finished as a league champion. This is the 3rd tournament title of the season for Elijah and he was winning by 16 points in the finals before he secured the fall. Elijah is definitely wrestling at a high level right now.
James Lower has improved tremendously this season and finished as a league champion. James was a JV wrestler 2 years ago but he put in a lot of work in the offseason and all that hard work is paying off. Just like Christian Giomi, James is an example of what happens when people commit to our offseason program.
Our starter all season was Lazar Otashevich and he only had a few losses on the season. Unfortunately, Lazar was unable to compete in the postseason (thanks covid) and he was undefeated in his league matches. Freshman, Max Keough, stepped in and finished as a league champion! Max has focused on the process all season long and has worked extremely hard, which is a direct correlation to his league title. Max is not afraid of anybody and looks to continue his success next weekend.
Addison Marcel has been wrestling at his best lately, which is a great thing. In the finals of the league tournament, Addison was winning 5-0 in the 3rd period over a kid who's ranked #31 in the state. Addison made a couple of mistakes and then accidentally put himself in a position that resulted in the other kid winning by pin. Addi will learn from this and be better than ever next weekend.
Roman Schitik went 3-0 on the day to finish as a league champion. Roman looked fantastic, even though he just missed a lot of wrestling due to Covid. Roman's match was the last match of the tournament and our team swarmed him after he won because it became official that we were league champions. That was an extremely happy environment and I will post photos once I get them.
Next up for the boys is the D2 Section Championships. We have the toughest Section out of the 5, so we will be toughened up by the Masters Championships and will be more than ready to qualify for the state championships.
Week 10 (1/24/22 - 1/29/22)
We had 2 competitions this week - our senior night dual meet against our league rivals, Roseville HS, and the SJS Team Section Championships.
Although we were not allowed to host the senior night dual meet as planned due to Covid restrictions, the event was very special. There were only 2 fans allowed in per athlete, the band was not allowed to perform, and more... Regardless, we beat Roseville 52-21 to win the dual portion of the CVC League Championships. We began the dual at 106 lbs. and each team had a girl starter. Annabella Tan wrestled a great match and only lost by decision to a very good wrestler from Roseville. We usually give up 6 points at that weight so Annabella saved our team 3 points. Brodi Herron-Williams looked fantastic and secured a pin for us to give us the lead 6-3. We had Vince Nguyen and Logan Marlatt wrestle in our next 2 matches and some very small strategy mistakes gave Roseville 12 more points to take the lead 15-6. Both guys wrestled great and were in tight matches and we have already begun improving on the lessons we learned from those matches. At 134 lbs. Ethan Lopez went up against Roseville's best wrestler and lost by fall. Ethan has a unique ability where he somehow draws every excellent wrestler towards him. Ethan has literally only competed against very good, decorated wrestlers this season, and Ethan is working harder than ever in the room. Going into Gianna DiBenedetto's match we were down 6- 21. Gianna wrestled a fantastic match and controlled every position against a very strong wrestler. Gianna won 8-0 and gave us four points. Her win set the motion for our team and Roseville did not win another match after her match. At 145 Christian Giomi wrestled fantastic and ended winning by pin late in the 3rd period. Christian looked at me to start the 3rd period and said he couldn't continue because he was so tired (nerves, senior night, etc.) but I just told him he could, and he did. Nathan Gregory received a forfeit and the team score was 22-21 at that point. Austin Carroll was up next and he continued the success from the previous weekend's tournament. Austin put in a lot of work in the offseason and he is always improving. In this match, Austin hit a move that we had working on and he won by fall. At 170 lbs., Elijah Shaw also continued his streak of success and hit a vast arsenal of technique to win be fall. Elijah has won 2 tournaments this year and finished in 2nd place at our only other individual tournament. James Lower had some ups and downs but eventually got offensive and won his match. James has improved tremendously this year and he also trains jiu-jitsu, boxing, and MMA, all which help him with his wrestling. Lazar Otashevich represented us at 195 for his senior night and he DUG DEEP to secure a win in his match. Lazar was losing early, fought his way to a lead, and defended his lead in the 3rd period. The last match of the night was Addison Marcel who is not afraid of any challenge. Addi has been putting together some nice technique lately but he just got after it in this match and won by fall. Addi gave a nice scream when he won, which got the crowd going. BV won the dual 52-21.
On Saturday, the varsity team competed at the SJS Team Section Championships. We had finished in the top 4 here for 16 years in a row and we continued that streak this year. In fact, this year there was a change and only league champions were invited in order to try and reduce the number of people in the gym at the same time. Usually, the top 2 from each league are invited. We had 4 different league champions in our D2 division and we were given the #3 seed behind Laguna Creek and Turlock. We were also without 3 starters due to Covid stuff. We wrestled Laguna Creek in the semifinals and it was an extremely exciting dual for us. We started the dual at 195 lbs. and our freshman backup, Max Keough, wrestled extremely well and fought hard to win his match by 8 points. Late in the 3rd period I told Max that he had to cut his opponent and get 2 takedowns in order to win by 8 points, which would give our team 4 points instead of 3. Max pulled off some magic and did exactly that. BV was up 4-0. Unfortunately, we had to forfeit the next match and lost by fall in the finals. We also had to forfeit the 106 match. At this point, we were losing 4-18. At 115 lbs., Brodi Herron Williams wrestled a very good wrestler and lost a very close match. Brodi was close to getting a couple of takedowns but the other kid fought them off. We will learn and improve from this. We were down 4-21 at this point. At 120 lbs., Vince Nguyen looked fantastic and won 11-0. It took Vince a period to figure what he could do in his match, and once he did, he started scoring a lot of points. Logan Marlatt was up next and turned it on to start the first and to finish the 3rd. He was very close to securing a fall and a tech but he won by a major decision 16-3. The team score at this point was 12-21 with Laguna Creek winning. As usual, Gianna DiBenedetto wrestled awesome and got a win for our team. Gianna went up against a very strong wrestler who has also had a lot of success this season. Gianna's lead was cut to 5-3 in the 3rd and then she hit a sweet move for a reversal and then controlled the rest of the match to win 7-3. As usual, Ethan Lopez drew the top wrestler from the other team and he fought his heart out. Late in the 2nd period the other kid was only winning by 4 points and then pulled out a big move to win by fall. At 145 lbs., Christian Giomi also went up against a very good wrestler and ended up losing by fall. I was not upset about that at all because i know Christian, along with every other wrestler on our team, puts out their best effort in every match. At this time, we were losing 15-33 with 4 matches left and we had no momentum going at all. I spoke to Coach Nishimura and we agreed that we would have to get 3 pins and a win for a chance to win the dual. We also could not lose a match. Nathan got taken down two times right off the bat and it was not looking good for him. However, Nathan did not give up and he became very offensive for the rest of the match. Nathan ended up winning 17-7 and was very close to getting a fall. At this point, we were down 18-33 with 3 matches left so we had to get a ton of bonus points to have a chance to win the dual. Austin Carroll was up next and was down 0-2 to finish the 1st period and the other kid was absolutely controlling every aspect of the match. The other kid chose down and Austin hit the move we've been working on and won by fall! It was very exciting and we knew we had a legit chance at that point with Elijah and James finishing our dual. Elijah Shaw was up next and got an early takedown, some nearfall, and then got a pin in the first period to bring the score to BV-31 and LC 33. The winner of the last match would determine the winner of the dual meet. James Lower felt no pressure and got after it in his match to secure an early takedown. James would not be denied and he won his match by fall in the first match to give BV the huge, walk-off win! I'm so proud of our team - for more reasons than I can put here.
In the finals, we went up against Turlock, who has a VERY good team this year. Turlock beat us 66-6 in our first tournament of the season and we received proof today about our improvement since then. Although we were down 3 starters, we lost 21-52 this time. Some highlights:
Brodi avenged an early season loss and won 11-7 this time
Elijah continued his success with another pin
James also won by decision
Max Keough wrestled amazing. He was down early and fought extremely hard to end up winning 6-5. Awesome match.
That concludes our regular season and playoffs begin now.
Week 9 (1/17/22 - 1/22/22)
All 3 of our teams were at tournaments this weekend. The JV boys competed at the Del Oro tournament, which is more like a low level varsity tournament. They separate divisions and I put most of our guys in beginner or intermediate but they all chose to be in the advanced division when they arrived. They competed well and i am glad they got some matches in last weekend.
The Varsity boys traveled to Corning on Saturday and competed in a very well attended tournament at Corning high school. There were 45 teams from 4 different sections in California and a handful of teams from Oregon. Most of our team had not practiced for over a week because of quarantine and this tournament was a much needed opportunity to get some wrestling in.
Brodi Herron-Williams was the #5 seed to start the tournament and lost a close match in the quarterfinals to the #4 seed and then Brodi fought back to finish in 3rd place. It's always good to finish ahead of your seed. Brodi improved every match and finished on a very high note in the tournament. He went 4-1 on the day and getting those 5 matches in at this time of the season is huge and very helpful.
Logan Marlatt wrestled his first matches of the entire season and looked like he's been wrestling all season long. He went against the eventual tournament champion in his first match and was the only person who did not get pinned by the kid. in fact, Logan hit a beautiful throw on the kid and had him on his back for a few second. Because of the way the tournament worked out, the best Logan could finish was 7th place because he lost his first match. Logan won his next four matches in a row to finish in 7th place and he finished with a 4-1 record on the day.
Ethan Lopez had not competed in over a month for various reasons and worked very hard to get back to wrestling. Unfortunately, Ethan had a very tough draw and lost both of his matches but he was extremely competitive in both matches and scored as time expired in his first match to force overtime but fell short. Ethan made some mistakes that he will clean up and he will be much improved the next time he competes.
Christian Giomi is another wrestler who missed a ton of practices for various reasons but showed up and wrestled better than I've ever seen him wrestle. He was chain wrestling, turning the right way in scrambles, and he had some nice technique. Christian went 1-2 but was super close in his 2 losses and he has a very positive attitude about his losses. He sees the losses as learning opportunities and he will continue to improve.
Austin Carroll was seeded #4 to start the tournament and won his first 3 matches to make the semifinals and then lost to the #1 seed who is ranked in the top 15 in the state. Austin lost his next match to finish in 5th place but he did some great things in his matches. In the quarterfinal match he went up against the #5 seed and Austin got some clutch takedowns and ride-outs, which are the skills needed to win at masters. I'll congratulate myself as a good coach now because the match finished tied at the end of regulation but I felt that Austin should have been awarded an escape point at the very end. I went and told the ref why I thought Austin should have been awarded the point and the ref told me I was right and then gave Austin a point and Austin won the match. Great coaching. Good wrestling as well.
Elijah Shaw was the #1 seed to start the tournament and he finished as tournament champion by the end of the day. Elijah went 5-0 on the day with 4 pins and a decision against a good kid from Ponderosa in the finals. Elijah beat this same kid in the finals of the Elk Grove tournament earlier this season and this kid finished in 2nd at Casa when Elijah finished in 3rd (they did not wrestle each other that day). Well, Casa was the last tournament for us because of cancelations and Ponderosa never stopped practicing or competing. Although this kid was much improved from last time, Elijah put on a beautiful performance and won 10-5 in the finals. Elijah's entire day was superb and he showed huge improvements as a wrestler since his last tournament.
James Lower was a game time decision about whether or not he would be able to compete because he had a horrible case of poison oak all over his body and face. Like, really bad. We know it's not contagious but his doctor was worried about irritating the skin. James ended up competing after missing a ton of practices leading up to the tournament and he did a great job - I am very proud of his performance. In addition to being slightly out of shape from the missed practices, the poison oak medications (plural) all made him extremely drowsy. Despite all of this, James won his first 2 matches to make the semifinals but then lost his next 2 matches and finished in 5th place. James had a lot of close matches and was very close to beating the Ponderosa kid - who was the eventual champion.
Lazar Otashevich is another wrestler who missed a lot of practice time but wrestled like he's been competing non-stop all season long. Lazar came in as the #2 seed and finished in 2nd place. After winning his first 2 matches in dominating style, Lazar saw a kid from Oregon in the semifinals. Lazar had a dominating 2-0 lead late in the match and then scored 5 points in the 3rd to win 7-0. In the finals, the match was tied with very little time left in the match and Lazar was inches away from securing the winning takedown but lost the position and the other kid got the takedown. Lazar then tried something desperate with short time and got put to his lost. Lazar is wrestling extremely well right now and has a great approach to his wins and losses - he sees everything as a lesson and opportunity to improve.
Addison Marcel won his first 2 matches to make the semifinals and he was hitting some beautiful new technique along the way. In one of his matches he was about to launch the kid across the gym and the ref had to stop the movement when they were still about 6' inside the circle because of the momentum Addi had. Addi lost to the eventual champion in the finals and then pulled out of his last match to rest something that nagging at him but it's minor and he's fine now. Addi finished in 5th place and wrestled extremely well all tournament long. Even in his 2nd match the ref did everything in his power to give the match to the other kid but Addi forced overtime and won in double overtime in very exciting fashion - on the mat that was outside.
We only had 9 wrestlers competing but our team finished in 6th place out of 45 teams. A great performance. I'm very proud of our team and that concludes the regular season tournament schedule. Up next is a shot at a league championship with a win over Roseville and then the Section Dual Championships.
The Girls competed at the Del Oro tournament this weekend. I was not in attendance at this tournament and got all of this information from the girls, the coaches, and from looking at the brackets.
Vaida Bozzuto is finally able to compete after coming back from a broken ankle that happened at the start of the season. Vaida works hard and is gaining a lot of valuable experience right now. Although she lost both of her matches she is improving every single day.
Annabella Tan was the #3 seed and finished in 3rd place at the tournament. Bella works hard and has some great moves/technique. She is having a lot of success this year and will definitely be in the mix at qualifying for the state tournament this year.
Amaya Yoshizumi entered the tournament as the #4 seed and finished in 3rd place. After winning her first 2 matches Amaya went up against the #1 ranked girl in the state for the 2nd time this season. Although Amaya lost, she did better than the first time she wrestled this girl. Amaya came back and finished ahead of her seed, which is always fun to do. Amaya is a legit contender to be a state medalist this year and all of these matches are important parts of the process she has to go through in order to achieve her goals.
Gianna DiBenedetto entered the tournament as the #2 seed and finished in 2nd place. Gianna dominated her first 3 opponents to make the finals and then she had a very exciting match that went into the ultimate tie breaker of triple overtime. The match was tied 7-7 and it came down to the final 30 second ride-out. Gianna started in the bottom position and if she escaped or got a reversal she would win. If her opponent rode Gianna out she would win. Well, her opponent dropped down to an ankle and pretty much held on to the ankle for 30 seconds to win the match. Gianna does not make excuses and will be a better wrestler as a result of the lessons learned from that match. Gianna has a goal of being a state champion this year and these "in-season" lessons are all part of the process that she needs to go through in order to become a state champion.
Katelynne Hall is another person who missed important practice time before the start of this tournament but showed up and competed to the best of her ability regardless of any adversity. Katelynne is fully committed to our program and even volunteers her time at our kids club 2x a week to help our future wrestlers. in the practice room, Katelynne does some amazing things and we will work with her so she can replicate how she is in the practice room when she's in competition. Katelynne finished 1 match away from a medal but she has a great approach and she's already back in the room grinding.
kara Larson has fought all season long to get back to competing and she was able to compete in her 2nd tournament of the season. Kara came into the tournament unseeded but finished in 4th place and she beat the #3 seed in her first match of the day. If Kara can find a way to fully commit to the rest of the season she will see some huge improvements and she will be proud of herself because she will know she accomplished something.
Emma Ford has been shedding the pounds all season long because she's been working so hard and she went down to a new weight class for the first time this season. Emma went 3-1 on the day and finished in 3rd place. She was extremely physical with her opponents because she is so used to competing against girls that are way bigger than her. Emma is in a peculiar situation because she will have a lot of success at either weight and she needs to make a big decision before playoffs begin. Emma has had a success all season long and I have no doubt that her success will continue regardless of what weight she's at.
Week 8 (1/10/22 - 1/15/22)
We had to cancel the Bella Vista Winter Classic tournament due to Covid related issues. We also host a youth tournament on the Sunday after the middle school tournament and had to cancel that tournament as well. I fought to the end to try and make this work, but ultimately, I had to make the decision to cancel it. I stand by my decision and I don't regret it. I had moved the tournament to the football stadium and then to the tennis courts and then back inside but it became impossible to be successful to run. The amount of work and effort we were going to pour into this tournament was not worth the small profit that we would have been lucky to make. On a normal year we usually profit around 13k - 16k. This year, because of all the Covid restrictions, we would have been lucky to profit 2k. I am currently working with Coach Smith from Carnegie to write up a Go Fund Me for all of our wrestlers and families to post on social media in the hopes of getting some healthy donations for our program. We do not charge our wrestlers to be on the team and everything is free. All of the money that we fundraise goes directly to singlets, warm ups, tournament entry fees, hotels, coaching stipends, etc. In fact, we are only provided with 2 coaching stipends by the district, and although girls wrestling is a CIF sanctioned sport, our school district does not provide a stipend for our girls wrestling coach. Our team pays our Girls' Coach's stipend each year and our JV coach's stipend each year with the money that we earn from our fundraiser. You caught me on a tangent and I'll stop here. Email me if you are interested in helping convince the district to provide a stipend for girls wrestling coach.
Our girls made a last minute decision to travel to the first ever Lady Grizzly Invitational in San Lorenzo. Every single one of our girls who competed earned a medal, which was great. Our girls have had 2 tournaments canceled on them this season so it was nice to be able to jump into a tournament so quickly. On a side note, the person who ran the tournament was an old college wrestling teammate of mine and we didn't realize that until we entered our girls into the tournament. Coach Nishimura took the girls to the tournament and Coach Hedrick showed up after some pre-arranged obligations. I do not have all the info but this is what I heard from Coach Nishimura when I spoke to him on the phone tonight.
Annabella Tan is having a lot of fun this year and she fought hard to finish in 5th place. Annabella looks unstoppable at times and then makes some minor mistakes at other times that costs her some points.
Katelynne Hall had a tough first match and then fought her way back to medal contention and finished in 5th place. In her last match, Katelynne avenged her earlier loss and beat the girl who beat her earlier in the tournament. Katelynne has been looking awesome at practice and we will be working with her so she can replicate that in matches.
Kara Larson wrestled in her first tournament of the season and she finished in 4th place. Kara dealt with a lot of adversity this year and it was nice to see her back on the mat. Kara is all in from here on out and she will make huge gains with more mat time.
Emma Ford continued her successful freshman season and won her first 3 matches to make the finals. In the finals, Emma went up against an experienced senior who is ranked ahead of her in the Nor Cal rankings and lost.
Amaya Yoshizumi also continued her successful season and dominated her first 3 opponents to make the finals against the #1 seed (Amaya was the#2 seed). The girl Amaya wrestled trains and competes everywhere and is very well known and she is ranked high in state. Amaya eventually lost 5-9 to finish in 2nd place but she learned a lot and will be better as a result of this tournament.
Week 7 (1/3/22 - 1/8/22)
We had some big tournaments scheduled this week, but unfortunately, we couldn't go to any of them. The girls were scheduled to compete at the Napa tournament, which is the biggest girls tournament in the country, but the school district of the host school canceled the tournament 2 days before it began. Our varsity boys, along with some extras, were scheduled to go to the Escalon tournament on Friday/Saturday, but we had 2 positive covid tests and our quarantine rules prohibited us from attending.
We did have a dual meet on Wednesday of this week and I was extremely proud of our team. We traveled to Inderkum high school and we knew that they only had 7 wrestlers ahead of time. I was going to have most of the team stay at BV for a practice and only bring 1 line up, but everybody wanted to travel on the bus together and support the team. My proudest moment came before weigh-ins when Inderkum was about to move wrestling mats and set up for the dual. The wrestlers on our team offered to move the mats for Inderkum and set up because their team was so small. I did not instruct them to do this; it was all on their own. I am such a proud coach and this is the type of culture that I am trying to build within our entire program. So, our team moved mats for Inderkum and set up for them. Like I mentioned before, Inderkum only has 7 wrestlers and each one is a new wrestler. We won 78-6 and one of the highlights was Vaida Bozzuto wrestling in her first ever high school match. We were going to forfeit the match at 106 but Vaida wanted to compete. Although she lost, our team and coaches were proud of her courage to step out and wrestle.
Next up is the tournament we host at Bella Vista, which is our 1 fundraiser of the year. I'm very nervous that it will get canceled and I'm starting to rethink my strategy to have 1 fundraiser a year. Putting all of my marbles in one basket might come back to bite me. In non-covid years, we usually profited about 15k. This year, we will be lucky if we hit half of that number.
Week 5... 12/20 - 12/22/2
This was the first week of Christmas Break. We usually take the first week of break off but we had a dual meet scheduled on Wednesday of this past week and had to adjust. This is the first time that I've seen a dual meet during break in at least 10 years but it didn't matter. We are comfortable being uncomfortable and we are fluid with all the changes that have been happening throughout the season.
Woodcreek High School came to Bella Vista on Wednesday night and they were looking for an upset. We lost our guy at 113 Lbs just before the dual started and we knew that we would be down 12 points to start the dual (no 106 Lb wrestler either). Woodcreek was also missing a person at 106 and the coaches agreed to start the dual meet at the 120 pound weight class (because their best wrestler is at 113 and starting at 120 would mean the last match is at 113. If the match was close, they would get a forfeit and get 6 points. If the match was not close, we would wrestle their best wrestler against our 120 pound wrestler in an exhibition match. Here are some match summaries.
120 - Brodi Herron Williams was coming off a 2nd place finish at the Casa Tournament but he had a tough warm up and got really tired early in the match. Brodi started with a solid lead and then made some small mistakes that kept his opponent in the match. In the 2nd period, Brodi was put to his back in the center of the mat to begin the period. It takes tremendous effort, grit, and resilience to fight off your back, in an extremely tight hold, with over 90 seconds remaining in the period and that is exactly what Brodi did. It looked like he had no hope but he found a way. Brodi ended fighting off his back and then getting a reversal to lead 6-4 going into the 3rd period. Brodi gave up and escape and then got taken down at the end of the match to go into overtime. By OT Brodi was exhausted, but he dug deep and found a way to get a takedown and win the match. This set the tone for the dual meet and I am really proud of Brodi's refusal to quit. He can clean up some simple mistakes he made and continue to improve.
126 - Amaya Yoshizumi got to wrestle in the varsity spot here and put on a show. Woodcreek was going to forfeit this match, but the coaches realized that we both had girls that could wrestle at this weight and decided to put both of them in the varsity lineup. I was really excited to see Amaya under the spotlight. She has probably been the most committed person on the team and she did not miss a practice last spring during our modified covid season (we were only allowed to practice and not compete), she attended all summer sessions, volunteered at the middle school wrestling camp I helped run, she made it to every single fall practice, and she has been to every single practice and workout this season. In addition to that, Amaya had been training at every gym she could over the past 2 years and competed in a lot of tournaments. I think you get the point about important Amaya is to Bella Vista wrestling and I was so happy to get her a match with the varsity team. Amaya was giving up about 5 pounds in the match but it didn't matter. Amaya went out and pinned her girl in less than a minute and she got the crowd going!
132 - Frank Olivera, only a freshman, wrestled up a weight class here and competed extremely well. When I first told Frank he was wrestling 132 he said no, but his teammates talked him into wrestling in the varsity spot that night. Frankie went out a little nervous and got taken down early in the match. After 2 periods Frankie was still down 0-2 but was getting closer to scoring. In the 3rd, Frankie finally put it together and took his opponent down and got some back points to tie the match up 4-4 late in the 3rd. His opponent escaped to take the lead, then Frankie shot in and was a second away from securing a takedown for the win, but time ran out. An amazing effort by Frankie and he matured tremendously as a wrestler during that match.
138 - Gianna DiBenedetto, only sophomore, is ranked in the top 20 in the nation for girls wrestling. Gianna went up against an extremely strong wrestler who thought that he would out muscle Gianna and dominate her with strength. Gianna wasn't phased and she slowly chipped away and she was winning 6-0 at the end of the first period. We chose neutral in the 2nd and Gianna took the guy guy down again. She was relentless in the move that she was looking to hit and she was literally lifting the guy in the air and slamming him around the mat. Each time she did this to the buff guy he made a loud growl and the entire crowd was very impressed. Gianna eventually got to her move and won by fall in the 2nd period, which electrified the crowd - Again. She is now 3-0 in varsity duals for our boys team with 3 pins.
145 - Nathan Gregory has had many ups and downs this year and most of the matches that he's lost this year have been very close. Nathan continues to trust in the process and he is improving a lot. Nathan was focused to start this match and was looking for his takedown, which he got and then took his opponent to his back and pinned him in the 1st period. Great job by Nathan! He will continue to improve a lot as the season progresses.
152 - Christian Giomi received a forfeit and he was really bummed that he did not get to wrestle!
160 - Austin Carroll went up against a pretty good wrestler and got taken down to start the period. Austin wrestled extremely well and he was winning 8-2 by the end of the 1st period. Austin and his opponent got into a lot of scrambles and unorthodox positions and Austin came out on top every single time. That is a sign of a wrestler with great feel. Austin has been improving tremendously this season and this match showed how much he has improved with his instincts, which are right. I told after the match to trust his instincts because they are right. Austin ended up dominating his opponent and won by fall.
170 - Elijah Shaw went up against a very inexperienced wrestler and pinned his opponent in about 20 seconds. I stepped away really quick at the start of the match to talk with Austin and by the time I looked up Elijah ahd already pinned his guy. Elijah is having a fantastic senior season and he is a prime example of what can happen when someone goes above and beyond everything that is asked of them. Elijah also got into the California State Rankings for the first time last week.
182 - James Lower went back to a lot of the same mistakes that he's been making this year but he adjusted by the end of the match and won with a takedown in the last seconds of the match. When James is defensive and waits for things to happen things don't go his way. When he's offensive and makes things happen he scores points and does well. James has made huge gains this year and is working extremely hard to improve as a wrestler. James will surprise a lot of people in the 2nd half of the season if he continues to trust in his process and if he continues with his extremely hard work ethic.
195 - Lazar Otashevich has had a series of minor injuries that have taken him out of wrestling for 3 - 4 days at a time. Lazar is a student of the sport and he is always acting like an investigator at practice where he is always asking questions about how to respond to various positions and techniques. Lazar wrestled on our varsity B team as a sophomore and had a lot of success. The 2 years off made him a little rusty to start the season but he's finally starting to find his groove where he can go out and trust his instincts. Prior to his match this night, Lazar said he wanted to try a move that he's been working on a practice, which I love. I don't care if our wrestlers get taken down when they are trying moves/strategies that I'm teaching in practice. Competition is simply an opportunity to measure where we are as wrestlers and try things. If we don't succeed, we go back to the practice room, improve, and then try it again in our next competition. Anyway, Lazar ended up taking his opponent down with the move that he's been working on! Lazar then hit another move we've been working on in the top position and pinned his opponent! Look for Lazar to continue to make huge gains as the season progresses.
220 - Addison Marcel is an animal when he competes. If we could only replicate his tenacity that he has during matches in the practice room! I've actually been working with him on this and he's been improving. Addison is tall, strong, and athletic for his weight class. This makes it difficult for his opponents to score on him, which is exactly what happened during this match. These guys went back and forth and Addison stopped a bunch of takedown attempts that looked like they were locked up for his opponent. By the 2nd period Addison started to make some offensive moves, which ended up with him putting his opponent on his back where Addison won by fall. This was an exciting match and Addison relied a lot on his athleticism. Once he improves on his technique a little bit he will be a very good wrestler.
285 - Roman Schitik is an extremely athletic heavyweight and I'm so sad that I only got him to come out for wrestling as a senior. Roman was sitting in my class in the fall and I walked up to him and asked him to come out for wrestling and he said "ok." Since then, Roman hasn't missed anything wrestling related and he works very hard in the room. This match was extremely close and Roman was winning 2-0 in the 3rd period after he got 2 escapes. Gettin an escape at heavyweight is very difficult and Roman made it look easy to get away from a person who weighed 270 pounds. At the end of the match Roman's opponent got offensive and tried to make something happen to secure a takedown, but Roman responded PERFECTLY and took his opponent down to his back and almost pinned him, but time ran out. Roman got up with a huge smiled and bowed to the crowd after his win. He's having a great time and I love that. The rest of the team loves Roman and he's been a great addition this year.
106 - Double forfeit, which was zero points for either team
113 - By this time, we were winning 57-3 so Woodcreek decided to forfeit this match so their best guy could get an exhibition match against Vince Nguyen. Vince lost to this kid 2x at the Casa tournament where he got pinned in the first match and then lost by 10 in the 2nd match. This time, Vince wrestled extremely well and Vince was close to getting a takedown but his opponent reversed him and got the takedown in the 1st. In the 2nd, Vince got an escape and was battling. Vince was losing 1-2 deep into the 2nd period but he made a mistake and got put to his back and lost by fall. We will work with Vince on his strategy and the positions that he got scored on. I have no doubt that Vince will be better because of this match and he will continue to make huge improvements every single day.
Bella Vista ended up beating Woodcreek 57 - 3. A great win for out team. When we geet back to school we have a dual at Inderkum, who lost to Antelope (we beat Antelope 84-6). THat weekend our varsity team will travel to Escalon and our girls will travel to Napa for one of the toughest tournaments in the country. Thanks for reading!
Week 4... 12/13 - 12/18/21
Dual Meet: We started this week with a dual against River Valley (RV) on Wednesday night. This was our first home dual of the year and we had an awesome crowd. I want to thank every person for attending; you were all awesome. Here's some background information for you - Bella Vista has won our league for 3 years in a row and Roseville was barely behind us in each of those years; always finishing in 2nd place. Well, RV beat Roseville in a dual one week prior to their dual with us and RV was looking for a huge win and upset over us. I knew this would be a challenging dual and I wasn't wrong. We didn't have a wrestler at 106 lbs. so we started the dual down 6 points. Vince Nguyen got us right back to even with a dominant performance and a pin (6-6). Next up was Brodi Herron-Williams, who has been one of our top wrestlers this year, but Brodi got upset and lost (BV-6, RV-9). In the next match, Nate Ross was dominating his opponent and then literally broke the bone in his knee cap (he got x-rays that night) and had to forfeit. This gave RV another 6 points and this was probably a 10 point turn around. The score was now BV - 6 and RV - 15. In the next match Frank Olivera stepped up to help the team but lost by fall (score: BV -6, RV- 21). We were down huge, everything seemed to be going RV's way, and I took the time to have a little talk with the team. I work hard to teach each person how to deal with adversity and I told the team that we were facing adversity and asked them how they were going to respond. We saw the adversity as a challenge to show our resilience. Next up was Gianna DiBenedetto, who is ranked in the top 20 in the nation for girls. Gianna was in a high pressure situation and absolutely put on a show. She scored multiple takedowns, got some back points, and then pinned her opponent. Our crowd went crazy and we immediately felt the momentum shift in our favor. After Gianna's match we were down 12 - 21 and put forth an amazing team effort to win the dual 43 - 27. The atmosphere was awesome, and if you were there, you know exactly what I'm talking about. We have 2 more home duals this year and I would LOVE to pack the gym for each of those nights.
Girls Team: Our girls competed in the West Coast Tournament of Champions this weekend, which included teams from all of CA, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. Annabella Tan and Katelynne Hall both had very tough draws (Katelynne wrestled the #1 seed in her first match) and they both lost their first 2 matches to start the tournament. This put them into a hard luck bracket on day 2. Annabella went 2-1 on day 2 and Katelynne went 3-0 on day 2. Great way to respond after a tough first day! Freshman, Emma Ford, had a unique bracket to start the tournament where they pooled the wrestlers on day 1 and then re-pooled the wrestlers based on their first day's match record. Emma has been seeing some early success in her high school career and this tournament was no different. She went 3-0 in her first pool, which put her in the championship pool against other girls who went 3-0 in their pool. Emma ended up in 5th place at the tournament, which is a great accomplishment... Amaya Yoshizumi entered the tournament as the #5 seed and pinned her first 3 opponents to make the semifinals (including a pin over the #4 seed). In the semis, Amaya went against the #1 seed who is a returning state finalist from 2020 and nationally ranked. This girl pinned Amaya and then also pinned her opponent in the finals. After her loss, Amaya dropped down to the consolation semis where she won a tough battle 6-5. This put her in the 3rd place match. In her 3rd place match, Amaya found herself losing 2-5 and fought back to win 8-6 and finish in 3rd place. Awesome tournament by Amaya - she showed a lot of resilience after her loss in the semis... Gianna DiBenedetto entered the tournament as the #3 seed and pinned her way to the semifinals where she faced the #2 seed. Gianna was winning the semifinals match by 5 points and then pinned her opponent to make the finals. In the finals, Gianna lost a hard fought battle 5-6. I have no doubt that Gianna is going to learn from her loss, adjust, and then get better. Our girls team continues to exceed expectations. After the tournament finished, we found out that the Bella Vista girls team finished in 10th place out of 126 teams with only 5 wrestlers. Nice job! After a couple of weeks of training our girls will wrestle in the Napa tournament in January, which is probably the most prestigious girls tournament in the nation for high school wrestling.
Varsity Boys: Our varsity boys team competed at the Casa Roble tournament this weekend. This is always a tough tournament and we are always happy to wrestle tough competition so close to home. We originally signed up 12 wrestlers for the tournament but that dwindled down to only 7 wrestlers to start the tournament - for various reasons. Our 7 guys showed a lot of improvement and wrestled very well. Vince Nguyen lost in the quarterfinals and fought back to make the 3rd place match. Vince faced the same guy he lost to earlier in the tournament and did better the 2nd time but lost and finished in 4th place. This is the 2nd varsity tournament in a row that Vince medaled at and he will continue to improve because of his commitment, effort, grit, and resilience... Brodi Herron-Williams was extremely disappointed in himself after his loss in the dual earlier in the week and responded in a great way. Brodi was unseeded in this tournament and won his first 3 matches to make the semifinals (including a win over the #3 seed). In the semis, Brodi faced the #2 seed and won in overtime to make the finals! I missed the 2nd half of the day because it was my daughter's birthday so I do not have details on the match but an overtime win over a #2 seed is awesome. In the finals, Brodi went against the #1 seed and lost to finish in 2nd place. Great day for Brodi... Nathan Gregory chose to attend the varsity tournament instead of the JV tournament because he wanted to challenge himself with tougher competition. Nathan lost 2 matches to start the day but is showing a lot of improvement each week. Nathan is a hard worker and he will continue to improve as the season progresses. Austin Carroll won his first 2 matches to make the semifinals and he won an exciting match in the quarterfinals 15-13 - in overtime! What an exciting match to be tied up 13-13 going into overtime. Austin lost in the semis and dropped down to the consolation semifinals and won his match by fall. Austin lost his next match and finished in 4th place, which is the 2nd tournament that he's medaled at in a row. Like everybody else on the team, Austin continues to improve and will see huge improvements as the season progresses... Elijah Shaw was the #1 seed and easily made it to the semifinals. In the semis, Elijah was upset and lost his match against a very tough wrestler. Elijah responded to his adversity extremely well and won his next two matches to finish in 3rd place. Elijah won last week's tournament and finished in 3rd place this week; a great start! Elijah will be better because of the experiences at this tournament... James Lower has been making huge improvements this season and medaled at his 2nd consecutive tournament in a row, which is awesome! James lost 2-3 in the quarterfinals and responded by winning his next 2 matches (including a win in overtime) to make the 3rd place match. James lost his last match and finished in 4th place... Addison Marcel was probably the biggest surprise on the day for most people in our program, but I was not surprised at all. Addison is tall, strong, athletic, and tough. He's been lacking some technique and strategy but we've been working on all of that. Addison put it together this weekend and pinned all of his opponents on his way to the finals. In the finals, Addison lost to the #1 seed to finish in 2nd place but had an amazing tournament. Addison has a lot of upside to his wrestling and he will continue to see success if he commits to everything for the rest of the season.
Week 3: 12/6 - 12/11/21This week started with our first league dual at Antelope High School. Our team rode on the bus to Antelope where we sang songs together and had a great time. Antelope has a very young and inexperienced team and their coaches are working really hard. Our team wrestled very well and we won 84-6. There are 14 weight classes and the maximum amount of points a team can get is 84, which is what we did. This means that we won all of our matches by forfeit or by pin. Although Antelope is a very inexperienced team, putting up 84 points also shows how hard our team has been working and is exemplary of our entire program because we are still able to field a full team despite the adversity we were dealing with in regards to injuries, grades, personal matters, and more. One of the highlights was when our highest ranked girl wrestled in the varsity spot for the boys. Gianna DiBenedetto is ranked in the top 20 of all high school girls (and she's only a sophomore). When I told the other coach that I was going to have Gianna wrestle I also told him that she has placed multiple times at national tournaments and is ranked in the nation. He wasn't impressed and said that it would be a good match because his guy was "squirrely" and he thought his guy might have a chance. Well, Gianna got a tech-pin. This means that she was up by 15 points where the match ends on a sympathy rule, but she pinned her opponent before he could get off his back. She barely broke a sweat and our entire team loved to see her put on a show.
On Saturday, our varsity boys traveled to the notoriously tough. Elk Grove tournament. We had a unique line up because we had 4 starters out of the lineup for various reasons. We had 3 freshman and a senior fill in those spots. We brought 12 wrestlers and had 5 medalists. Elijah Shaw was the highlight of the day and finished as the tournament champion in his weight class. Individual results follow:
113 - Vince Nguyen wrestled in his first varsity tournament and finished in 6th place. Elk Grove is a very tough tournament and medaling here is definitely something to be proud of. Vince went against the #1 seed in his first match and lost and then battled back and faced some good wrestlers along the way. Vince is a really fun kid to coach and he does everything the coaches tell him to do. His technique is beautiful and he is doing everything right. The only struggle for him right now is his lack of mat time. Vince wrestled as a freshman and then missed out on a ton of wrestling due to the canceled season when he was a sophomore. He's missing some of the "feel" of wrestling where a person adjusts their hips correctly, turns the right way, or responds correctly based on feel and not based on thinking or technique. The only way to get that feel is to wrestle, wrestle, and wrestle, which is exactly what he's doing. He's improving a lot every time he wrestles and the future is bright for him
126 - Frankie Olivera, only a freshman with very little experience, stepped up and competed very well at his very first varsity tournament. Frank stepped into our varsity lineup earlier in the week and won by fall in our dual at Antelope. Just like other wrestlers on the team, he needs as much mat time as possible and wrestling in these matches are only going to make him a better wrestler. I invited him to this tournament because I wanted him to see and feel how varsity wrestlers compete. I knew he would struggle to find a win and I knew he would be able to handle it and become more resilient because of it. In his first match, Frankie was losing by 8 and put some nice moves together and put the other guy on his back. Every single person in the room saw the guy flat on his shoulders except the ref, and I have NO idea how he missed it. We even looked back on film and were blown away. Anyway, Frank barely lost that match and then went against one of the tops kids in the bracket and lost again. I have no doubt that Frankie is better because of this experience.
138 - Ethan Lopez has been dealing with a ton of adversity this year and this tournament provided him with even more adversity to deal with. Ethan works extremely hard in the room and he did a ton of work behind the scenes so he would be able to compete this weekend. This tournament would be his first competition in almost 2 years. Well, shortly into his first match of the tournament Ethan sustained an injury and had to withdraw from the tournament. He is home and is doing well but he had to leave and see a doctor. We are still waiting for full results but the injury might not be as bad as we were thinking. Regardless, I pulled him out of the tournament because I did not want to take any chances. I have no doubt that Ethan will do everything in his power to get back on the mat as soon as possible. In fact, as soon as he was injured he told me he was good and walked back to the center of the mat to try and continue wrestling (I pulled him immediately, though). Just like everybody else, Ethan is a pleasure to coach and he needs as much mat time as possible.
145 - Nathan Gregory competed today and ended up going 1-2 on the day. Nathan had a very tough draw to start the tournament and then had an evenly matched opponent in his 2nd match. During that 2nd match it seemed like Nathan was dominating the action but he was losing with very little time left on the clock. Nathan took his opponent down to his back, locked a cradle, and pulled out a victory at the end of the match. Nathan lost his next match and was a lot closer to winning than he probably realized. He is making some small mistakes that are costing him a lot of points. If we can clean these mistakes up, while continuing to do other things well, he will improve tremendously as we progress throughout the season. Nathan, just like everybody else, is a pleasure to coach, he's a hard worker, and he's simply lacking mat time (experience) right now.
152 - Christian Giomi has been working extremely hard to get better as a wrestler, and just like everybody else, he's a pleasure to coach, he works hard, and he's lacking a lot of mat time (experience). This was evident in his first match where he was winning 7-0 at the end of the match and then got thrown to his back and got pinned. This is simply something that we have to experience through trial and error, learn from, adjust, and then get better in those scenarios. We compete so we can gain experiences like this and then improve based off of our new knowledge. In his 2nd match, Christian was competing very well, and unfortunately, he sustained an injury that forced him to withdraw from the tournament. I have no doubt that Christian will respond well to this adversity and he will be better because of these experiences. He has a lot of upside and can improve a lot if he cleans up some minor mistakes.
160 - Austin Carroll competed in his first ever individual varsity tournament and finished in 5th place after going 3-2 on the day. Austin is a "Never say die" type of wrestler and he always has the opportunity to hit a big move and pin his opponent when he's behind. Austin did this multiple times this weekend and he provided a lot of excitement for the people watching him. Austin works very hard in the room, he's improving a lot as a wrestler, and he will make some huge improvements after he cleans up some bad habits he is making. Like everybody else, his lack of mat time is the major thing hindering him right now and wrestling as many matches as possible is the only way to get that extra experience. Austin has a great attitude and he will continue to improve a lot as the season progresses.
170 - Elijah Shaw has been improving as a wrestler every day at practice, after every match, and he's even making huge improvements in between the beginning and end of his matches. This continued growth is impressive and is representative of how hard he works in the practice room, the work he put in during the offseason, and his attitude towards adversity. Elijah was the #2 seed to start the tournament and every single person he wrestled was tough. Elijah chipped away in every match, he didn't let any adversity rattle him, and he focused on what he does well (instead of worrying about what the other kid does). Elijah's toughest match was in the semifinals and he was winning by 1 point going into the 3rd and ended up putting the other kid on his back to win win by 4 points. In the finals, Elijah went up against the #1 seed and ended up winning the match by more than 8 points. The only tough spot in the match for him was when the other kid put him on his back in a cradle, but Elijah bounced back, reversed the kid, and continued to score. Congratulations to Elijah for winning the very tough Elk Grove tournament. I wouldn't be surprised to see him pop up on the California state rankings after this tournament win.
182 - James Lower competed for BV in this weight class this weekend and ended up finishing in 6th place. This was James' first individual varsity tournament and getting a medal here is something to be proud of. James works very hard in the room, he's a student of the sport, and he's always asking for help to improve. Once he gets on the mat he kind of forgets some of his training because he is lacking mat time (like everybody else). James is working on this and has been making some great improvements this year. He lost 2, very close matches this weekend because of some minor mistakes he made. If he continues to limit his mistakes, continue to improve, and trust in his process, he will make some major improvements this year.
195 - Bella Vista brought 2 wrestlers at this weight class this weekend. Caleb Jurovschi did some great things today but he lost a couple of matches that he could have won. That's fine and it's all part of the process, as long as we learn from it, adjust, and improve. Caleb was winning in the 3rd period in 2 of his matches today and gave up some points at the very end of the match and lost. Like I said, we now have some information on what we can work on and we can make some major improvements with those scenarios. I was really impressed with a lot of what Caleb did today. There is more than 1 way to find a win in a match and we found a lot of wins today. Caleb doesn't much and he chooses his words wisely. He also works hard, he's very respectful, and he is very coachable. This was his first varsity tournament and competed very well.
195 - Max Keough, only a freshman, competed in his first every varsity tournament and finished in 4th place. Elk Grove is a very tough tournament, and to finish in 4th as a freshman is a big deal. In addition to that, most of the people in this weight are juniors and seniors, compared to the light weight classes that have a lot of freshman and sophomores. Max came up through our kids club but missed out on 8th grade wrestling and he last wrestled in 7th grade. 7th grade wrestling to high school varsity wrestling is a TREMENDOUSLY HUGE difference in competition - not even close. Max has a great attitude, he works hard in the room, he's coachable, and he puts in a lot of extra work outside of the room. Max multiple days each week running stadiums and the track all by himself before practice. I have no doubt that the extra work he's been putting in played a role in his victories today. Max had 2 matches where he was behind on points towards the end of the match and dug deep and found a way to get a win. In one of those matches, his opponent had him on his back for most of the 1st period and was physically pushing Max all around the mat. That didn't phase Max and he chose down, stood up, got a reversal, and then locked a cradle for the win. Max was used to winning matches in 7th grade based off his strength and size and he's seeing first hand about the importance of his technique. He has a lot of room for growth and will continue to improve a lot throughout this season.
220 - Devin Crichton, only a freshman, wrestled in his first ever varsity tournament today and got a really tough draw. Devin went against some really good wrestlers, who both ended up medaling in the tournament, and got some important experience today. Devin was probably the only freshman in this weight class, which was probably full of juniors and seniors with lots of experience. Devin is very tough, he works hard, he doesn't say much and he chooses his words wisely. I was very impressed with his ability to go out there and do his best to compete in the matches. Devin has very little experience and I brought him to Elk Grove because I know that he can handle the adversity, and be better because of the adversity. Devin even showed up to the tournament a little overweight and worked extremely hard before weigh ins and did everything he needed to do in order to make weight. Those small wins start adding up, they have a positive ripple effect, and our entire team benefits from those small victories. Look for Devin to improve a lot this year.
285 - Roman Schitik is a pleasure to coach and he always has excitement in his matches. Unfortunately, Roman went against a seeded wrestler in his first match and could only wrestle back for 7th place because of where he lost in the bracket. Roman doesn't really have anybody to fully train with at practice, but he always works hard, he has full effort, and he's very positive. He actually started this week out with a victory by pin over the Antelope kid and was extremely cheerful after the match. Today, he lost to a good kid in his first match and then lost a very close match in his last match. Roman almost got a reversal to win at the very end, but it didn't happen and he lost. His approach to the sport is perfect and look for hin to make some huge improvements this year.
Week 2: 11/30 - 12/4
Unfortunately, the girls tournament we were going to attend at Casa Roble got canceled 2 days before the tournament began because someone on their team tested positive for Covid. This is our new reality and this probably won't be the last time we deal with this. We can't control the things that happen to us but we can control how we respond. I know that one of the girls went and wrestled at the JV boys tournament and some of the other girls got some extra workouts in. Good work
The boys started the week with 2 dual meets at 12 Bridges High School in Lincoln. We need as much mat time as possible so I jumped at the opportunity to get some extra, early season matches in. Our first dual was against 12 Bridges and we won 60-20. 12 Bridges is young (all sophomores or younger) and they wrestled very well and put up a great fight. They also picked up a few wins. Our next dual was against Whitney, who was good and extremely motivated to beat us. Bella Vista has a tradition of success with wrestling so most teams see beating us in a dual as a huge win. We started out the dual strong and then made some mistakes and fell behind in the team score. By the time we got to 182 we were so far behind that we would have to win all of the final matches and pick up a lot of bonus points along the way (pins, tech fall where you win by 15, or a major decision where you win by 8 points or more). At 182, James Lower got a decision, at 195, Lazar Otashevich got a pin for us, which set up a match at 220 that would determine the winner of the entire dual meet (we received a forfeit at 285). Addy represented the Broncos at 220, knowing that he had to win for our team to win the dual, and he went out there and he was EXTREMELY physical, aggressive, and determined. Addy got a pin and propelled our team to a win. Just a few matches prior to this it looked like there was no way to win the dual, but our team rallied together and found a way to get a win. This was very exciting and represents the heart and determination of this year's team. Our team is working hard, they are coachable, we are having fun, and we are all focusing on the process. There is a lot of room for growth for every person on this team, which is exciting. The next 2 days of practice after this dual were great and we got a lot better
Friday and Saturday brought us to the Annual Larry Nelson Classic (Vacaville Duals) where we would wrestle 7 dual meets in 2 days. This is an awesome tournament because we get a ton of mat time to start the season, our team is together for 2 straight days (all dual meets), and we get to face some of the best wrestlers and teams in the state. Like I mentioned above, we need as much mat time as possible and this tournament gave us exactly what we needed. I chose to do what was best for each of our wrestlers and I sent some of our starters to a different tournament so they could get some wins, experience, and confidence. This left our team without 5 starters and we started each dual down 30 points. In our first dual, we went against McQueen from Nevada and the dual came down to the very last match. We lost, but our team showed tremendous grit in their ability to almost win a dual they started down by 30 points. We lost 36-39. In our next dual we wrestled Lincoln of Stockton, who finished just behind us at the Section Championships 2 years ago (we were 3rd and they were 4th). We spotted them 30 points to start the dual, and just like our previous 2 duals, this dual meet came down to the last match where the winner determined who would win. James Lower showed tremendous growth and won his match by pin, which gave our team the win (48-47). One side note is that a kid on the other team screamed the "F" word during his match and the ref didn't do anything. I pulled the ref aside and told him I don't care about the points, but he needed to do something about that to teach the kid early in the season (or else he would think he could get away with it). The ref then took 1 point away from their team and we ended up winning by 1 point. In our final dual of the first day we went up against Granada, who were the D3 dual meet state champions 2 years ago (we got 3rd in D2). I couldn't even make this up, but this dual meet came down to the final match, AGAIN! Although we lost our final match and lost the dual 42-44, we wrestled the best we had all week. Addy Marcel picked up another pin to make him 3-0 on day one, Vince Nguyen, Brodi Herron-Williams, James Lower, and Lazar Otashevich all picked up wins in this dual.
On day 2 at the Vacaville duals we started with a dual against Oak Ridge, who was short a few wrestlers like us. We started day 2 down another wrestler because James Lower was taking the SAT. This meant we spotted each team 36 points to start the dual. I couldn't believe it when it happened, but our dual against Oak Ridge came down to the last match, AGAIN! We ended up winning this dual and got a ton of experience. Getting 2 dual wins and almost getting 2 others is a huge win for our team and it was so much fun to hang out with our team, to watch our guys support each other, cheer each other on, help each, and have fun. I also really enjoyed spending time with all of the parents who were in attendance. Roman Schitick got a huge win for us, which was his first varsity win for Bella Vista! Our team was pumped! Brodi, Austin Carroll, Lazar, and Addy also picked up important wins for us.
Our next 3 duals were against Central (Fresno), Vacaville, and Turlock. These 3 teams finished in the top 3 in the tournament and scored a lot of points against us. We did get a couple wins against Central and had a few matches that we only lost by decision. Our guys wrestled very well against a very good team. Next up was Vacaville, who has one of the best teams they've ever had. They have 6 guys on their team who already signed to wrestle in college next year. They also have a ton of highly ranked wrestlers in state and their team is #6 in the state (the top 5 are pretty impenetrable). . We wrestled great against Vacaville and a lot of our guys were lucky to get to "feel" that next level, the speed, pace, strength, and chain wrestling. I'm grateful we got to wrestle them to start the season - an amazing opportunity to get to wrestle the best. If we don't wrestle against people who are better than us, and then grow as a result, then we aren't fully challenging ourselves. We picked up a couple wins and had a couple close matches, which was exciting. We finished against Turlock and we were down to 7 guys because of an injury against Vacaville and our guys were pretty exhausted. We wrestled well but made some mental errors that cost us some matches. However, we are going to learn from our mistakes, get better, and focus on our process. This is why we wrestled 7 duals against some great schools to start the season.
Overall, I'm VERY pleased with how our guys wrestled. I got to see a lot of areas that we need to work on in the wrestling room, our guys literally got better every single match, and we got some amazing experience. We hadn't wrestled in almost 2 years so our timing, speed, and feel was a little off to start but that improved a lot as we went on. Next up is Elk Grove, which is a tough, individual tournament. hopefully we make some huge gains at practice this week. It's exciting that we get to go measure ourselves next week and see how we've progressed.
Week1: (Thanksgiving Break)
The new tradition for Bella Vista wrestling is for the girls to kick off the wrestling season at the annual Folsom invitational Girls Wrestling Tournament. This tournament is always on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving and usually contains some of the top ranked girls in the state/nation and this year was no different. Just a few years ago, Yelena Makoyed wrestled the #1 ranked girl in the nation here and both of those girls ended up as state champions at the end of that season (at different weight classes). There were 27 teams competing this year - all the way from Fresno to Yuba City, and from the Bay Area to Nevada. Having said all of that, we had 5 girls competing in the tournament, out of 14 weight classes, and the BV girls took 1st place in the team standings! This was an absolutely awesome way to start the season. our team was in 2nd place going into the last match of the day where Freshman Emma Ford secured a fall, which guaranteed 1st place for our team. Despite that finish, this was a full team effort. The most exciting part for me, despite our early "success," is that our girls still have a LOT of room for improvement. We wrestled well today, but the upside of our potential is high. Competition is simply an opportunity for us to measure where we are as wrestlers and today gave us a lot of beta to work with. Here are some individual results:
111 - Annabella "Bells" Tan finished in 3rd place after going 4-1 on the day. Bells started out the day looking more confident than ever and she was in the semis after 2 victories. Bells has not wrestled for 2 seasons and felt a little uncomfortable in certain situations in her semifinals match and ended up losing. She did not allow that loss to phase her and she responded to that adversity very well Bells made some adjustments and showed continuous improvement for the rest of the tournament where she won the next 2 matches to finish in 3rd place. In her 3rd place match, Bells was trailing 0-2 at the end of the 1st period and worked hard to methodically win her match 5-2. I told her after that match that she won that match in the practice room. The other girl was gassed out by the end of the match and Bells was still pushing the pace and never stopped working to improve her position. This was a great way for her to start the season.
116 - Amaya Yoshizumi flat out dominated her competition today where she finished in first place after pinning all four of her opponents in the first period. Check out how quickly Amaya pinned each girl throughout the tournament: In Match One - 39 seconds pin, in Match Two - 21 second pin, in Match Three - 1:57 pin, and in the Finals Match Amaya pinned her opponent in 37 seconds. Our team won the overall team score by 4 points, and in tournament scoring each pin awards that team 2 bonus points. So, Amaya gave our team 8 extra points with her 4 pins. The matches were so quick that I don't have a lot to report on, but I kept telling Amaya after her matches to just wrestle and not pin girls so fast but each girl was going after her so aggressively that Amaya had no choice but to take care of business. It just happened, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Amaya has not stopped training throughout Covid and her performance today was reflective of all of the hard work she's put in. This was a great start to the season for Amaya and it's exciting to know that she can still improve.
131 - Katelynne Hall had a tough draw where she lost to the eventual champion in her first match of the tournament. Katelynne responded very well and got after it in her following match where she picked up a fall in less than a minute. In the consolation semifinals Katelynne had a very close match that had a lot of 50/50 scoring positions but Katelynne was on the losing side of those positions and finished in the top 6 of the tournament. Katelynne then managed to put together a couple of exhibition matches in the Folsom practice room and won a couple of matches in a row. Katelynne is a very hard worker and I have no doubt that she will continue to regularly improve throughout the season.
137 - Gianna DiBenedetto wrestled in the largest bracket in the tournament and the TOUGHEST bracket in the tournament. Just for context, Gianna is currently ranked in the top 20 in the nation and she only got the #3 seed in the tournament. The top 2 seeds were both ranked higher than her in the nation. What an incredible opportunity to have at a tournament 15 minutes from BV. Gianna absolutely dominated her first 2 opponents and everybody in the tournament was watching her wrestle because they knew who she was. Only a sophomore, this was Gianna's first actual high school tournament because Covid canceled last year's season and she already had all the eyes on her. After her first 2 victories Gianna face a girl in the semifinals who is ranked higher than her in the nation. This match had a lot of action and Gianna was the aggressor the entire time. The other girl was so defensive and backed up so match that she got 2 calls against her for stalling, which gave Gianna 1 pt. After 6 minutes the score was tied and the 2 girls went into overtime. Almost everybody in the tournament had their eyes on this mat and the other girl ended up getting a takedown in overtime. Gianna handled the loss well and the 2 girls hugged it out at the end. Gianna responded by coming back to take 3rd place in the tournament. In her 3rd place bout, Gianna was again in a position where her opponent was working to "survive" because she knew how Good Gianna is and this girl refused to do anything. Gianna chipped away, continued to score, and then ended up winning by fall at the end. This was a great first high school tournament for Gianna and she still has a lot of room for improvement, which is scary for all of her competition.
235 - Emma Ford, only a freshman, wrestled in her first high school wrestling tournament today and had a great performance. Emma was very unsure of where she measured up against other high school girls prior to this tournament and today gave her a great answer. Emma ended up going 4-1 on the day and finished in 3rd place in her first ever high school tournament. Emma is at the lighter end of her weight class and most of the girls she wrestled today were a lot bigger than her and older than her. Emma was relentless today and never stopped working to improve her position in all 5 of her matches. Her relentless energy wore out her competition and they could not keep up with her pace. Although Emma made some basic mistakes with position, her hustle on the mat made up for it. We will clean up a lot of these positions with her and she is ready to make some huge improvements with her wrestling game. It was cool to see Emma's confidence build as the day progressed. Emma had the last match of the tournament on her mat and her victory put the team into 1st place for the tournament. It was fun to see everybody stay and cheer her on at the end.
Overall, this was a fun day for our girls and it was really, really nice to get back to a wrestling tournament and feel a bit of "normalcy" again (for me, anyway). I'm looking forward to getting back to work on Monday and improving. One last shout out is to one of the boys varsity wrestlers, Nate Ross, who showed up today and supported the girls team all the way to the end of the tournament. I love that type of culture.
Next up for the girls is the Casa Roble girls tournament on 12/4. We might send a couple of girls to the quad duals on 11/30 at West Park just for backups but that will be determined on Monday.
Amaya Yoshizumi - 1st Place
Gianna DiBenedetto - 3rd Place
Annabella Tan - 3rd Place
Emma Ford - 3rd Place
Katelynne Hall - Top 6
TEAM - 1ST PLACE.