A freshman wrestler doesn’t usually have much impact at the varsity level.
But Thomas Manibusan Jr. is making noise at American Canyon High School four months before the season has even started.
His father, Tom Manibusan, has been the only head coach the Wolves have had in their six years of existence, while his Uncle Rick has been the head assistant coach.
Before they came to American Canyon, Rick Manibusan had been the head coach at the former Hogan High in Vallejo for 34 years. The oldest of nine siblings, he coached Tom – the youngest sibling – to the 1993 state meet during his junior season. Tom went on to assist Rick at Hogan, until Hogan became a middle school and they took over the new ACHS program.
Rick wrestled with brother Manuel at Hogan, and coached three of his other six brothers there, Joseph, Robert and Michael. Two of whom also reached the state meet, with Michael placing sixth. He didn’t coach John.
“There was stretch of Manibusans from 1979 to 1994 on the wrestling mat,” Rick noted.
But it wasn’t business as usual with the Wolves.
“When we came to American Canyon,” Tom recalled in 2014, “Rick said ‘I’ve got a great idea: it’s your turn to (be head) coach.’ He’s the mastermind, and I’m still learning. I still get a lot of great ideas from him. I can teach you how to wrestle and how to work out, but I don’t know how to do the paperwork like he does.”
Now that Tom Jr. is in high school, his dad wants his uncle to coach his son – perhaps so Tom Sr. can sit back a little more and watch, or because of Rick’s impressive resume.
“Coach Tom wanted me to coach his son when he got into high school. Now I have the opportunity to coach his son, like I coached his father,” Rick said. “I look forward in coaching my nephew.”
From 1987 to 2011 at Hogan, with the boys, Rick coached 21 state meet qualifiers, seven state placers, 18 subsection champions, four Masters Meet champions and one All-American, and won two Solano County Athletic Conference team championships and was the Sac-Joaquin Section team runner-up once.
With the Hogan girls, he also had several state qualifiers, three state champions, 15 state placers and two national champions, and won one section team championship and one state team championship.
Rick is happy to keep Tom – who has head coached one state qualifier and three section qualifiers for the boys at ACHS and six state qualifiers for the girls in just six years – on the staff.
“His approach in coaching is second to none and he will focus more on the aspect of wrestling than the administrative side of the program,” Rick said, adding that Larry Snyder, Jeffery Cole, Dave Lanoue, Catherine Villalon and Jason Gramlick will round out the staff.
Rick Manibusan, 51, said the reason he applied for the head coaching position wasn’t to be in charge, but to have coaching continuity as the school welcomes a new principal and athletic director.
“I just wanted to coach,” he said. “At this time, ACHS is going through a transition with administration and coaches. They could have gone another direction with the wrestling program. I’m just really happy that ACHS chose me to lead and continue what we started. The ACHS coaching family works well together and glad that we are still a part of it.”
Senior heavyweight Lucas Gramlick will look to reach his first state meet after two Masters Meet appearances, and seniors Adrienne Dominguez and Angela Ramirez will try to return to the girls state meet.
Rick Manibusan said neither he nor the returning wrestlers knew Tom was stepping down as head coach until the end of last season.
The ACHS athletic department announced on Twitter, “We are excited to announce the hiring of Rick Manibusan as our Head Wrestling Coach for the 2017-2018 school year!” after Rick’s hiring was approved by the Napa Valley Unified School District board on July 25.
“I had a few text messages congratulating me on the position,” Rick said. “It took some time before I knew it was official. I can’t wait to submit our staff members to (Athletic Director Melissa Shimer) for approval.”
Rick, who lives in Vallejo, isn’t married and doesn’t have children, but he’s still very busy. He works full-time as a Senior Clerk for Kaiser Permanente in a suit, and changes into sweatshirt and sweatpants when he gets to practice.
He is also a volleyball head coach, of the American Canyon High JV team in the fall and Club Solano in the spring, meaning he’s coaching throughout the school year.
“There are many reasons,” he said when asked why he coaches so much, “but the gratification of teaching kids is why I do it. Tom and I made a promise to the school when we were hired years ago to ACHS that we would support our community. Tom does the wrestling side, while I contribute on the volleyball side.
Rick helps American Canyon varsity volleyball head coach Katy Maligie with the middle school program in the offseason and helps Tom recruit middle school athletes for their Napa Sheriff’s Activities League-sponsored American Canyon club wrestling program.
Rick has also refereed wrestling and volleyball for many years and plans to continue doing so.
“I got into officiating to better myself in each sport,” he said.