It was a short offseason for Scotts Valley wrestling coach Jared Norman. Now in his sixth year as head coach of the Falcons, Norman was determined to figure out why his wrestlers were unable to win matches while wrestling at higher-level tournaments.
“We had to reevaluate,” Norman said. “We wondered why we couldn’t control the match.”
After three consecutive second place finishes in the SCCAL behind first place Aptos, the coaching staff decided to make some changes.
Norman and his staff spent the offseason researching how to improve the school’s program that boasts 27 wrestlers, including six girls.
“We changed the curriculum,” Norman said.
What they have come up with is patterned off what many college programs do.
Now, Norman teaches a program that’s built on mastering and drilling basic skills before getting to more complex moves and techniques.
The team spent the first two weeks of the season working on drills and scenarios that improved their setups, hand-fighting, levels and angles.
“Now it just comes to them,” Norman said.
The results have already been paying dividends, as Scotts Valley took 4th of 26 teams at the Peninsula Invitational at Half Moon Bay on December 7 and 10th of 28 teams at the Webber Lawson varsity tournament last weekend.
The Falcon wrestlers also put in work over the offseason, as assistant coach Fred Cortez organized a year-round program and many of the wresters competed during the offseason. Other coaches include Lou Russo, a new PE teacher at the school, longtime assistant Ken Kannegaard, Mike Parrish, and Waseem Lutfi.
Norman has high expectations for this group of wrestlers. The girls team is led by junior Domino Parrish who has been wrestling with the boys in the early going.
“It will be hard for any girl to beat her,” Norman said.
The boys team has a chance to challenge Aptos for the league title, if everything falls into place.
“I’m confident if we put up our best guys versus their best guys, we can hold our own,” Norman said.
For the boys, key wrestlers include captain Doug Peyser wrestling at 170 pounds, captain Michael Sandoval at 132 pounds and Baldan Dashiev at 195 pounds. Up and comers include Nick Reyes, Tristan Leonetti and Andy Ramirez.
Norman is thrilled by the work ethic of his team, and expects big things out of the team.
“It’s the most fun group I’ve been around as far as positive energy,” Norman said. “They’re very supportive of ach other. They understand life lessons and take that to heart. They’re learning, performing and excelling.”
San Lorenzo Valley
The Cougar wrestlers are grappling on new mats in their practice facility this year, thanks to a joint effort between several groups at the school to pay for the $9,500 mats.
Wrestling team fundraisers, combined with money from the SLV Boosters, school district office, athletic department, and SLV Middle School all went toward purchasing the new mats for the wrestling room.
“The old mats were probably from the late 80s or early 90s,” said head wrestling coach Ken Pollastrini.
The high school team and middle school team each use the mats, which are far more portable and cushioned than the old mats.
“I’m happy with them,” Pollastrini said.
Pollastrini, in his 10th year as coach, is joined by assistant coach Todd Kraft. Kraft also coaches the middle school team.
The high school team has 14 wrestlers, and only one senior. Pollastrini said the team will fill out all but two or three weight classes and he considers the 2013-2014 a bit of a rebuilding year after graduating several top wrestlers last season.
“Next year and the league after we’ll make a run for (the) league (title),” Pollastrini said.
However, Pollastrini said sophomore Jed Kraft, who finished second in league as a freshman, has a chance to be one of the top wrestlers in the section at 132 pounds.
“He’s got the ability, and he’s got certain things you can’t teach wrestlers,” Pollastrini said. “He can pounce on mistakes. He can see things like that where a lot of wrestlers don’t have that ability.”
Other key wrestlers include Jason Silva, wrestling at 112 pounds, finished second in the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League last season.
Kurt Lambaren and Patrick Brooks will return to the fold sometime in January as they recover from football injuries. Ian MacDonell and Eli Reyes add depth to the roster and have potential, Pollastrini said.
Pollastrini is excited about a new format for league matches this season that he and Aptos coach Reggie Roberts developed, where all the teams in the league wrestle at the same school each week. Fans will get to see more wrestling and it will allow the league to become more cohesive, Pollastrini said.
Pollastrini is excited about the Coast Classic Wrestling Tournament at Aptos High School on Dec. 27 and 28. Seventy eight teams will participate.
“It’s gonna be awesome,” Pollastrini said. “It’s easily becoming the toughest tournament in California.”