FAIRFIELD — With the 2013-14 wrestling mats starting to heat up, city grapplers are getting in shape to make their respective postseason runs.
With Rodriguez, Armijo, Vanden and Fairfield all returning key talent, this season is shaping up to be a good one.
Here’s a look at this year’s city wrestling squads:
The Mustangs, coming off a second-place finish in the Monticello Empire League to Vacaville, are loaded with talent again, including 126-pounder Brandon Vu, who qualified for last season’s state championships.
Also back for Rodriguez are Patrick Ferrer, who’s moving up from 220 pounds to heavyweight (285), Joemar Anicete, Malachi Estep, Greg Papish, Josh Weiss and Andrew Sta Maria. Ferrer reached the Masters tournament last season while the rest made it to the section Division I North tournament.
Some veteran wrestlers for the Mustangs finally getting a chance to crack the varsity lineup – most were behind other better wrestlers last season – include Marco Padilla, Israel Colozza, Christian Chubbs and Jason Brosas.
Other younger wrestlers looking to make their marks include Ryan Ballard, Emilio Gutierrez, Brandon Diaz, Jarrod Guinn, Brandon Alemania, Marcus Ison, Jordan Cervantes, Jeremy Lewis, and freshman freshmen David Panangan and Deangelo Mendiola.
“Mentality-wise we had a good preseason, got in shape,” Rodriguez coach Mike Clarkston said. “We’ve developed a system the last few years and we have it fine-tuned. We have a lot of talent, a group of kids at each weight class that push each other. It’s a fun room to be in right now.”
As always, standing in the way of a MEL title is Vacaville, but Clarkston is always trying to find a way to keep up with the Bulldogs.
“I think part of it now is the mentality to compete with Vacaville,” the coach said. “They have a lot of returners. It’s a belief that that’s the level (that our wrestlers) have to get to. Mentality-wise, we’ll show up and compete and do whatever we can. We have a solid group.”
The Indians have three returning Masters qualifiers in Darius Levan (113), Hayden Scibek (132) and Billy Cimmino (184/195), with section qualifiers Chris Elkin (220/285), Jorge Perez (152/160), Danny Charos (162/170) and Amini Kapapa (170/182).
Other wrestlers looking to make the starting lineup for Armijo include Houston Scibek (113) and Vishiv Singh (138).
“We’ve got a few seniors and a few sophomores and juniors,” Indians coach Cesar Correa said. “We just want to do well as a team, try to finish in the Top 3 in league as a team.
“It would be nice to get 10 (wrestlers) to sections and at least half of those to Masters, and then maybe a couple of guys to state. You never know.”
The Vikings will look to make their move in the Solano County Athletic Conference with four returning starters to the varsity lineup.
Brandon Dontogan (182) is back after qualifying for the Masters tournament last season, with Fernando Angelo (145/152), Alberto Bernales (160/170) and Joey Zambori (113) back after making sections last spring.
Newcomers for Vanden include Daniel Remberger (106), Isaac Fiol (138/145) and Caleb Arbona (138), who recently moved to town from Florida.
“Our mats are full and we haven’t killed off as many as we had hoped to (due to the hard work). We have guys that want to wrestle.
“We went to Vallejo and had seven guys place (in a tournament). That’s good for us. We have a bunch of guys out but we don’t have a lot of experience.”
The Falcons could be as strong as they have been in recent years with seven grapplers back with varsity experience.
Masters qualifiers Alberto Martinez (120) Anthony Ramos (172) are back, along with section qualifiers Mark Beckendorf (145), Russell Sales (152), Jesse Martinez (180) and Cedric Page, a Masters alternate.
Apai Broytubtin (132) also returns for the boys’ team, while Alejandra Sanchez-Hernandez is back on the girls side after finishing in the Top 16 in the state a season ago.
“Sales and Beckendorf are getting better,” Falcons coach Kyle Holsworth said. “And Alejandra is better, too. We are a little on the injured side right now so we’re trying to get healthy.
“We’re going to focus on getting healthy and improving every day, and try and place as high as we can in league.”
Reach Brian Arnold at 427-6969 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/barnolddr.