2007-02-15 / Sports

Top wrestling talent congregates at TOHS

By Thomas Gase tgase@theacorn.com

RIVALS MEET- Above left, Thousand Oaks' Eric Kanney, right, locks hands with Moorpark's Aaron McManus during a league wrestling practice Monday at TOHS. Westlake's Alex Stokes, above right, gets the upper hand on his opponent. CIF Individuals are this weekend. RIVALS MEET- Above left, Thousand Oaks' Eric Kanney, right, locks hands with Moorpark's Aaron McManus during a league wrestling practice Monday at TOHS. Westlake's Alex Stokes, above right, gets the upper hand on his opponent. CIF Individuals are this weekend. This past week Thousand Oaks High seemed to be the best place to start a fight. Of course, if you weren't one of the best high school wrestlers in the area, it may have been the worst.

With the wrestling season winding down, TOHS hosted practices this past week that included most Marmonte League teams as well as squads from outside the league such as Camarillo and Chaminade.

The practices were held strictly for the wrestlers competing in the CIF-Southern Section Individual Championships this weekend at Chino Hills High. There were approximately 80 wrestlers in attendance, making the Thousand Oaks wrestling gym a sea of talent.

"We're not dealing with anymore deadweights," Simi Valley head coach Guy Greene said. "All the kids that wrestled only because of their dad, or their girlfriend thinking it was cool, or because they wanted to get an easy letter, those kids are gone now. These kids are not only at the highest level, but they have worked all year harder than anyone."

Photos by BILL SPARKES/Acorn Newspapers Photos by BILL SPARKES/Acorn Newspapers Simi Valley's finest that are competing this weekend include Mikey Murphy, who's in the 137pound weight class. Other Pioneers that'll be in action are Matt Bruno (162), John Hamm (191), Shawn Munson (217), Jeff Chuang (132), Chris Barr (127) and Travis Burchfield (121).

According to many coaches and wrestlers, the practices were a good change from the normal everyday workouts the teams had been accustomed to.

"It's a real advantage because you get to wrestle with all the socalled 'talent' in the area," Thousand Oaks head coach and practice organizer Kerry Lyne said. "We are not quite teammates, but we also aren't rivals anymore at these practices."

The Lancers will have eight grapplers competing this weekend, including Ben Guido (103), Collin Sasaki (112), Jason Moore (125), Dowan Hines (130), Behrod Katebian (140), Eric Kanney (152), Jack Hoskinson (171) and Dillon Brockert (285).

Chris Gideon would've competed but he separated his shoulder in his last match.

"This has been a great way for me to close out my senior year," Kanney said. "It's pretty fun, even though it's tougher than a normal practice."

After making the Individual Championships in 2006, Westlake's Alex Stokes was glad to be working once again with the area's elite.

"I went last year, and it really helped my whole style and my self-esteem," Stokes said. "After the practices last year, I saw myself become faster and stronger. I'll basically wrestle anyone here as much as I need to because I really want to learn a lot."

J o i n i n g Stokes from Westlake this weekend will be Jason VillaVisencio (103), Arian Ghaffari (119), Kelly Postel (125), Dan Nguyen (130), Anthony Gonzales (140), Micheal Spates (160), Thomas Lang (145) and Sam Hong (215).

While Stokes didn't mind who he wrestled at the practice, some coaches stayed away from having their grapplers match up against their rivals in fear of having them give a move away. Other coaches, like Royal High's Rich Carrillo, said it depended on the wrestler.

"It depends on the kid whether or not he wrestles a rival or not," Carrillo said. "The best thing to do is just find a good workout partner that will help you get better. After 12 weeks of wrestling with the same guy during the season, they don't push you as much anymore."

After winning the Marmonte League, Royal is sending 11 grapplers to this weekend's tournament.

The Highlanders are led by Philip Dimalanta (103), Sam Mestaz (112), Kevin Dunn (125), Michael Dumelle (135), Stephen Campbell (140), Aaron VanDriessche (145), Shane Crosley (152), Justin Carnahan (160), Ryan Brown (171), Matt Rulon (189) and Diego Vargas (heavyweight). For Agoura's Dennis Ritterbush, the practices provided an opportunity for the coach to take pride in knowing he had coached well enough to get players to this point of the season.

"From here on out there are no slouches left in the league," Ritterbush said. "I would have been happy to get nine players from my team here, but 12 kids is just amazing."

Agoura's members are Dayne Santoro (135), Austen Jesse (160), Brent Goldwater (189), Drew LaFountaine (215), Jeff Tabachnick (103), Justin Crane (112), Drew Weiss (125), Pascal Combes-Knoke (171), Brady Smith (heavyweight), Casey Van Gielderen (152), Eric Yates (119) and Michael Gullick (145).

Grapplers weren't the only ones learning during the workouts. Many coaches took notes, too.

"All the coaches have different angles, and it's nice to see what other coaches are doing and see if that will work in your own program," Westlake coach John Cuccia said. "The practices create a real camaraderie for the league."

Calabasas has five wrestlers competing: Rusty Handler (130), Mike Shai (140), Mike Steffen (145), Alex Nelancon (215) and Julian Jazayeri (119).

Newbury Park has no members wrestling this weekend.

Return to top