VACAVILLE — The 2013 wrestling season is kicking into gear and the Vacaville and Wood high school teams are shaping up.
The Bulldogs, the perennial power in the Monticello Empire League, are as strong as ever, and the Wildcats, always looking to make a mark in the MEL, are preparing themselves for the future.
Here a look at this season’s teams:
The Bulldogs return six wrestlers with state meet experience and are once again the team to beat in the MEL. They are also coming off yet another Masters championship, a divisional title and a MEL championship.
Leading the charge for Vacaville this season will be Jeremy Sweany, the No. 1 ranked wrestler in California at 195 pounds and the defending state champion. Sweany, ranked No. 6 in the United States, is looking to become the school’s first two-time state champ.
Right behind Sweany is three-time state medalist Gionn Peralta. Peralta was second in the state last season at 106 pounds, losing a close 11-10 decision to Central’s Adrian Camposano in the final. He’s looking to become the school’s first four-time state medalist. Peralta has grown and will likely wrestle at 113 or 120 pounds this season.
“It’s not every year you have two returning state finalists in your lineup,” Vacaville co-head coach Adam Wight said. “This is a special group. One of our focuses and goals is that we want other kids to succeed, too.”
Others returning for the Bulldogs this season include section champion Hayden Fry (145), Anthony Hernandez (113), Bobby Ehman (132), Matt Brazet (138) and Steven Gomez (220).
Newcomers looking to crack the varsity lineup this season include Jordan Uldall (138) and Jordan Aquino (106). Both wrestled extensively for the varsity squad last season, but were behind other wrestlers when the league championships rolled around. Heavyweight Mike McCauley will also be in the mix for the Bulldogs.
“Jeramy’s goal is helping (Gomez) succeed,” Wight said. “We want to see the kids reach their potential. As a team, we want to be ready for the postseason, peak at right time. We would want to be top four at state.
“It’s going to be a competitive state meet. Jeramy wants to repeat. No one at Vaca has done that. Gionn wants to be a four-time state medalist. That’s never been done before either (at Vacaville).”
The Wildcats return seven grapplers to their varsity lineup, but after that, the younger wrestlers will be looked at to step up, according to coach Thor Jensen.
Wood’s J.T. Teel is back as a Top 12 Masters finisher, and was second in the MEL and second at sections.
Also on the mat for the Wildcats will be Markus Mourlot (undetermined), Daniel Maldonado (220), Christian Esquer (285), Zach McKee (145), Drake McKee (160), Royce Ramirez (132) and Mario Aguilar (138). Aguilar wrestles as a sophomore but was injured last year and Drake McKee should start after coming up from last season’s JV team.
Newcomers for Jensen this year include Dylan Hazen (182), Jamal Heard (195), Anthony Bettencourt (126), Cody Healer (120/126) and Robert Kaihe (106).
“We’re pretty a young team, maybe the most inexperienced team I’ve ever had,” Jensen said. “JT should lead the way and Mourlot was fourth and the McKees were fifth in our last tournament.
“We’re just trying to get better every day and be healthy by the league meet, hopefully by January, but definitely by the league meet.”
Reach Brian Arnold at 427-6969 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/barnolddr.