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August 12, 2022

Falcons’ wrestling team still optimistic for a good season despite low turnout

The numbers on the Scotts Valley High wrestling program have dwindled since Nick Reyes, a former Falcons wrestler who is in his first year as head coach, was part of the team five years ago. 

At one point, they were bringing in up to 30 student-athletes, both boys and girls, from the school of roughly 800. But, now they’re lucky enough to get as many as a dozen on a good year.

“In recent years this is kind of how the numbers we’ve been seeing on the team,” Reyes said. 

Reyes says that the Scotts Valley Middle School wrestling team has a big turnout each year, but the kids aren’t sticking with the sport in high school. He’s not sure if kids are taking on other sports or interested in other activities, but something isn’t adding up to him.  

“I always wonder why we couldn’t retain those kids who were in that middle school program because we do get some big numbers,” he said. 

The Falcons have only nine wrestlers this year. 

On the boys’ side, they have juniors Kaden Oliver and Logan Darneal, and sophomores Michael Garcia and Simon Auvray.

Sophomores Danica Kelley and Kayse Martinovsky, freshmen Jazzy Doubek and Piper Murray and senior Tyler France led the Falcons on the girls’ side.

But the low turnout hasn’t changed the way they compete and they believe that they can still make some noise in the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League this season.

“What I like so far about our team is that we’re incredibly persistent despite injuries and Covid, and all of these crazy things coming our way,” Kelley said. “We still get in our room, we still wrestle and we still go out and do our best to compete.” 

This season also feels like things are back to normal after what happened during the abbreviated 2021 spring season. For starters, wrestlers couldn’t compete indoors due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the coaches had to come up with an alternative.

Scotts Valley competed in Santa Cruz County’s first outdoor wrestling event at San Lorenzo Valley High’s football stadium on April 28.  

“Last season was definitely something weird and something that we weren’t expecting,” Martinovsky said. 

Martinovsky said that wrestling outdoors was a unique experience and the atmosphere was something she never imagined going through. 

“You’re always in a mat room doing stuff inside,” she said. “When we were heading out there on the football field I was like, ‘Wow, this is really unique. I’ve never done this before.’” 

Kelley said the biggest transition going into this season was that they were still getting used to being in contact with someone after a pandemic-impacted year.

She said some of the tournaments made them wear masks during a bout, something she thought was pointless because only those who tested negative could wrestle.

“You’re sweating and bleeding on the other person, so a mask is kind of inefficient and it makes you cough up,” Kelley said. “Otherwise, there really wasn’t much change.”

Kelley won at the Ed Ferrell Classic in the 126-pound weight class and placed third in the same weight class at the 12th Annual Lady Royals Tournament.

Kelley was pre-ranked at No. 9 in the Central Coast Section at 126, but she recently moved down to 121 pounds for the rest of the season. 

Kelley and Martinovsky both competed at the Women’s West Coast Tournament of Champions on Dec. 17 and 18 at the Roebbelen Center in Roseville.  

Kelley advanced to the fifth round in the 121-pound consolation bracket where she lost by a 5-1 decision to Jazy Vega of Westmont High. Martinovsky won her bout at 137-pounds against Korynna Crain of River City High in the first round.  

France, who placed third at the 2019 CCS 137-pound championships, is pre-ranked at No. 1 in CCS at 143-pounds. She was a runner-up at the Ed Ferrell Classic after a loss to Ariana Mercado of Soledad. 

Kelley also wrestles for the Highway 9 Wrestling Club, which is associated with the Boulder Creek Recreation & Park District.

Prior to the season, she won the 126.8-pound weight division at the Raider Classic at Silver Creek High on Oct. 3. It was a USA Wrestling event sponsored by the Santa Clara Valley Wrestling Association.

Reyes, who wrestled two years at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, is hoping to bring a part of that collegiate atmosphere to Scotts Valley.

He wants to have college-style practices that include warm-up periods, technique drills and a review period where they go over some final preparations leading to tournaments or league meets starting next month.

“Definitely don’t want to run them into the ground but definitely still get their bodies moving and then keep them in good wrestling shape,” Reyes said.

Reyes, who took over for Fred Cortez, said there’s a progression rate he’d like to have through the season. He knows there are some holes in the lineup but he wants to make sure whoever he sends out to the mat will compete to their best ability.

“Whether we win or lose, just having that opponent feel terrible at the end of the match because they just went through something,” Reyes said. “And when they see their name again in a tournament or whatnot, they just say ‘Oh crap, I have to wrestle that kid again.’”

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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