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February 5, 2023

Falcons’ cast grows during the offseason | High school wrestling

Scotts Valley nearly triples in size with 13 wrestlers on roster

For the past two years, Scotts Valley High juniors Danica Kelley and Kayse Martinovsky have represented the entire wrestling program, from league dual meets to the state championships.

The Falcons, however, had a big resurgence during the offseason after the team not only doubled, but nearly tripled in the number of participants.

In the blink of an eye, they went from five wrestlers to 13, which is something Scotts Valley coach Nick Reyes is ecstatic about.

“It’s super awesome, definitely what I’m looking forward to is having this team grow,” he said.

The girls’ team added a pair of freshmen in Citlali Lopez and Lila Mosley into an already young Scotts Valley team that continues to grow.

“The team overall is doing better,” Kelley said. “I think we’re all building off each other.”

On the boys side, the Falcons have sophomore Kadyn Cruz, a transfer student from Mountain Vista High in Highlands, Colo., who continues to improve every day. 

The 6-foot, 220-pound youngster began wrestling in the seventh grade, but he was sidelined the following season due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He missed some crucial time on the mat, but Reyes believes Cruz, along with junior Lorezno Gonzalez, are probably two of the more primed wrestlers he can throw in a varsity tournament.

“[Cruz] works hard, big strong kid,” Reyes said. “Just super excited to see where he goes throughout this season and how he can progress.” 

The boys team also added sophomores Jace Thompson and Bobby Arcangeli, and freshmen Angelo Vignato, Oden Karo, Simeon Wheeler, Jack Tucker and Micaiah Trujillo this season.

Reyes said Scotts Valley Middle School was essential for him to create what he hopes is a feeder system into the Falcons’ wrestling program.

“We try as a league to produce the best we can,” Reyes said. “The whole idea is to get these middle school kids to stick with it and then get them into the high school realm. That’s pretty much every feeder for every high school.”

Other than rebuilding a roster, Kelley mentioned it’s been a huge relief being out of Covid-19 protocols.

At one point, the wrestlers were restricted from practicing on a daily basis or were in danger of having the school shut down.

“We don’t have to overcome as much, which is really cool,” Kelley said.

Kelley and Martinovsky both qualified for the California Interscholastic Federation Wrestling Championships and 16U National Championships in Fargo, N.D.

Kelley—a member of both HWY 9 Wrestling Club and Live Oak Wrestling Club—had a strong performance at the CIF State finals in February.

The standout wrestler competed in the 116-pound division and she finished with a 3-2 overall record at the three-day tournament in Bakersfield.

“Last season I felt like I definitely got where I needed to be, kind of status wise,” she said. “I checked off what I felt like I needed to accomplish. This year it’s just going on that, setting better expectations for myself. I want to win State, and be consistently good at tournaments.”

Kelley said having a much bigger team feels like everything is coming back together after Covid. She also mentioned not having as many green wrestlers makes it easier to bring everyone up to speed.

“I kind of help with reminders, occasionally,” Kelley said. “Kayse will help with warm-ups and we’ll also help with rally support… [it’s] us trying to make it more of a team atmosphere.” 

Prior to his first match, Cruz was told the competition would be a lot harder in California versus Colorado. He mauled through the competition at the Ed Ferrell Classic by winning the 220-pound weight division.

“They were kind of easy matches,” Cruz said. 

Cruz got past Niko Gombos of North Salinas in a 2-0 decision in the quarterfinals, then he pinned Matteo Lopez of Aptos High in the semifinals, followed by another win via pin fall over Nicholas Paz of St. Francis in the finals. 

“I’ve been taking practice really seriously, not messing around or anything,” Cruz said. “I’ve been on a diet, not eating any junk food or fast food.”

Plus, he enjoys going from a larger team of 30 kids to a smaller group in Scotts Valley, giving him more one-on-one time with coaches.

Cruz believes he might be ready to head into the JV level, and it’s going to take some more practice before making the next jump.

“I want to work on snapping down and immediately going for a shot because in the middle of a match I kind of panic, I don’t know when to shoot and stuff,” he said.

Kelley said her teammate has been soaking in every bit of advice from the coaches like a sponge, and it shows on the mat. 

“I can see that [Cruz] just goes out and does it, which is a great quality to have,” she said.

The Falcons will participate in the Nick Buzolich Classic at Fremont High on Dec. 17 and the Pat Lovell Holiday Classic at Aptos High on Dec. 27-28. 

Scotts Valley will compete for the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League crown against San Lorenzo Valley, Aptos, Harbor, Soquel and Santa Cruz. 

The Falcons and Pirates will square off the teams’ first league dual meet at Harbor High on Jan. 4.

The SCCAL tournament will take place at San Lorenzo Valley High on Feb. 3.

“Wins or losses, it’s part of the sport,” Reyes said. “But as long as, 1: we can learn from those losses so we don’t make the same mistakes or whatnot, and 2: just progress in general. It’s just going to be a much more enjoyable experience for them and for me as a coach, as well.”

Juan Reyes
A Watsonville native who has a passion for local sports and loves his community. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College, San Jose State University and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Cabrillo College athletics, various youth sports in the Pajaro Valley and the Santa Cruz Warriors. Juan is also a video game enthusiast, part-time chef (at home), explorer and a sports junkie. Coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to report scores HERE.

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