Whistles are shouting their whiny tune again in the wrestling rooms of both San Lorenzo Valley and Scotts Valley high schools. Both schools had success in different ways last season and both are looking to improve again this year.
The Cougars found their top wrestlers at the state meet for the sixth time and the Falcons battled their way as a team to second place in the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League.
San Lorenzo Valley
Ninth year Head Coach Ken Pollastrini sees his small numbers as a gift. The Cougars only have 10 to 12 wrestler on the team and some of those are dealing with injuries. Last season, the Cougars finished third in the league standings, but were afforded bragging rights as only an SLV wrestler (Logan Kellogg) went on to the state meet from our league.
“I told the guys its better this way,” Pollastrini said. “I would much rather have eight guys who want to be here then dozens that aren’t willing to put in the work.”
The Cougars return the No. 1 seeded wrestler in the Central Coast Section in the 220-pound weight class in “Big” Ben Landouer.
Returning junior Michael Kraft is currently ranked third or fourth depending on whether or not he wrestles in the 126 pound weight class or the 135’s. Kraft is working through an injury, but hopes to return to the mats this season.
Senior Elijah Schoepp will be another of SLV’s wrestlers in the mix as he competes in the 170 pound weight class.
The Falcons powered their way through the SCCAL last season and finished with just one team loss to the eventual league champion Aptos Mariners.
Under the guidance of four-year Head Coach Jared Norman, the Falcons are looking to improve on that statistic this year.
"This particular team is as dedicated as I've ever seen," Norman said. "The kids are self-motivated and hungry for their first league title. But that is going to mean taking down a monster if we are going to beat Aptos."
While SLV is working with small numbers, the Falcon team has dozens of motivated guys and girls working out in preparation for the season. The Falcons, however, did lose several of their top wrestlers, Drake Smith and Chris Youmans, to graduation.
Returning 103-pound wrestler Kevin Eddington and 170-pound wrestler Baldan Dashiev will several Falcons to focus on this season.
Freshman standout Dominic Parrish, who won the league title for the local middle schools by beating all the boys in her weight class, will compete in the120 pound weight class as a high school student.