High school wrestlers use every move and every ounce of effort to defeat their rivals.
But when it’s time for the CIF State Wrestling Championships in Bakersfield, rivals become brothers, working out together and standing side-by-side for keepsake photos.
Practices at Folsom and Del Oro this week became a who’s who of area wrestling stars.
With seven wrestlers – including Masters champions Josh Lazaro (132 pounds), Lorenzo De La Riva (145) and Nick Fiegener (182) – qualifying for the state tournament, Folsom didn’t need to bring in more bodies this week for practice, but more arrived anyway.
Folsom coach Mike Collier allowed Masters champions Kaleio Romero (160) of Oakmont, Will Sumner (170) of Nevada Union and Joey Banks (195) of Franklin, along with a handful of other state qualifiers, into the Bulldogs’ wrestling room to train.
“It’s always good to have other teams coming in for the postseason,” Collier said. “They all want to have good workout partners, and they push each other to get better.”
Oakmont coach Justin Castrillo said the wrestling community is tight. .
“We are all looking at the bigger picture,” Castrillo said. “The Sac-Joaquin Section is one big family. Unless our guys are going against each other, we are all in. It’s only going to help our community in the end.”
Fiegener is the area’s top contender for a state title. The senior headed to Cal Poly is ranked No. 1 in the state in his weight class, one of 11 area wrestlers ranked in the top 10.
Fiegener defeated Rocklin’s Sklyer Gonzalez for the Masters title. Gonzalez was part of a Placer County group practicing at Del Oro this week.
Del Oro, which advanced six wrestlers to the state meet, opened its doors to athletes from Roseville, Granite Bay, Placer and Casa Roble.
“(Collier) has a good wrestling room like us, and had a lot of qualifiers like us,” Del Oro coach Dave Sanchez said. “Makes sense that the Highway 50 side practices there and the (Interstate) 80 side practices here.”
Placer advanced two to the state meet, Myles Lenover (170) and Will Thornton (182).
“It’s like a wrestling camp,” Placer coach Don Packheiser said. “All the coaches are there. All the different schools. The guys pick up their game when they practice with new partners from another school.”
Packheiser wasn’t afraid to take an unconventional approach in his appearance this week, either. Last season, he vowed to bleach his eyebrows if one of his wrestlers made it to Bakersfield, but none did. This week, he made good on his word.
Team trips – Jesuit is sending a school-record four wrestlers to the state meet. Alex Elko (132) and Erik Medina (195) finished second at Masters, Anthony Wesley (120) was third and Cole Wilbourn (220) fourth. Oak Ridge has five wrestlers participating, and Ponderosa and Elk Grove each will send four.