With seven individual Tri-County Athletic League championships Saturday at Palma High, Gilroy High once against showed why it’s one of the best wrestling squads in the section and the state.
The Mustangs claimed the team TCAL championship and all 13 Mustangs wrestlers qualified for a spot in the Central Coast Section championships Feb. 24 and Feb. 25.
Eleven of the Mustangs wrestlers advanced to the individual weight finals, and no one placed lower than third in their class. All 13 wrestlers won at least one match during the day.
Despite the overall dominant showing, head coach Greg Varela thought things could have been even better, he said.
“A couple of guys could have put themselves in the driver seat (next week) but it didn’t work out that way,” he said. “ We are young and they are figuring it out. The veterans stepped up and led the way. We lost a couple of opportunities. We made it a little more difficult for us next week but that’s fine with their positive attitudes.“
Willie Fox (145), Niko Villarreal (132), Paul Fox (126), Victor Olmos (120), Victor Daza (113), Jesse Vasquez (106) and Mark Penyascek (170) took first in their weight class. Aaron Gonzalez (138), Lupe Jimenez (152), Matt Penyascek (160) and Jose Lara (285) finished second.
Julian Cabajal (182) and Frank Martinez (220) finished in third.
Varela said he expects his young team to learn and improve in the sectional tournament next week.
“We’ll break down their matches and what they did wrong and what they did well,” he said. “They did a lot of things right. We have to focus on the positive. They are small things. They say football is a sport of inches but wrestling is a sport of inches. A little inch there and a little inch there and we would’ve won.”
In the overall standings Saturday, the Mustangs scored 269.5 total points, defeating second-place Palma by more than 50 points.
“I think they did good,” Varela said. “Some of the freshmen wrestled a little bit like freshmen and we have to fix that next week, but as far as effort and everything like that goes, I’m happy about their effort.”
He continued: “There is nothing to complain about as far as their heart goes. Where their mental state is right now it’s just technical stuff that needs to be fixed. I’m happy. I’m real happy. “