WRESTLING: Cougars looking to turn heads at CCS tournament

The Christopher High wrestling team in ranked No. 5 in the section heading into the weekend’s Central Coast Section Championships. Head coach Alecxis Lara expects his group of participants to act – and wrestle – accordingly.

He closed an emphatic post-practice speech Thursday morning with a question: “Are you ready to shock the world?,” the third year coach beckoned his attentive grapplers. They, in unison, agreed to the


“What I mean is, we want to show the CCS world that it doesn’t matter that we have only been around for three years,” Lara said. “We can do this with a bunch of beginners, and as long as they believe in the program, believe in themselves and stick to the plan, anything is possible.”

The Cougars will bring 11 wrestlers into Day I today at Independence High School, five of those won Monterey Bay League individual titles last Saturday as  CHS wrapped up its league championship.

Sophomore Jimmie Lopez, who is ranked No. 1 in CCS and received a No. 1-seed in the tournament, is, for all intents and purposes, the favorite in the 106-pound division. Three others – Ricardo Bribiescas (No. 5 at 132-pounds), John Riffle (No. 4 at 220 pounds) and Stevie White (No. 4 at 287-pounds) – were seeded into their respective brackets.

“Our seeds couldn’t have been better,” Lara said. “Jimmie has already proven that he is on another level, and if he puts on a good performance he should win it.”

Lara doesn’t see the weekend as a pressure-packed opportunity, but more of a chance to showcase how the Cougars have quickly ascended into the section’s elite.

“We have developed these guys over the past three years and they have consistently strived to get better and be the best, which is why we are one of the top teams. And if they perform well, they can prove that to the rest of CCS,” Lara continued. “But the main thing is, I want the kids to perform to the best of their abilities. I’m not concerned or dwelling on placing high as a team. At this point I’m focusing on individuals wrestling up to their standards. And if they do, that should put our team up high, which will be fun and surpass our expectations.”

Raul Meza, Andras Kabai, Jacob Graffigna, Herjinder Bahndal, Tomas Zamora, Josh Aguilera and Jesus Nunoz will also wrestle for section acclaim.

“This year they definitely kept their eyes, throughout the season, on CCS. They have turned it up a notch this week. They aren’t content with just a league title. They are hungry. Lara said.”