The American Canyon High wrestling team is so young, even its two returning North Coast Section Championship qualifiers are only juniors.
Only six of the 38 boys are seniors, and only one of the 10 girls.
After his team dropped its Vine Valley Athletic League opener to visiting Napa High on Thursday, 37-31, head coach Rick Manahan was asked how many Wolves might be able to qualify for the North Coast Section Championships this year.
“I want to be optimistic. We have some lightweights who could do it, but it’s going to be a lot of work,” he said. “Our league is pretty tough at those weights, and our section is, too. Next year, we’re working toward that. We don’t want to say ‘next year,’ but I’m just being real right now.
“I know how young our team is. The Christmas break hurt us a little bit, with guys traveling with families and what not. But our young group has actually stepped up and grown into their roles.”
Manibusan’s assistant coaches are Jason Gramlick, Tom Manibusan, Larry Snyder and girls head coach Catherine Villalon.
Leading the team are the likes of junior 134-pounder Devin Garingarao, who was 3-2 at the NCS meet last year, and junior 126-pounder Elijah Beronilla, who was 2-2.
Another junior, Thomas Manibusan, is the nephew of the head coach and son of the assistant coach. He had hoped to wrestle varsity last winter, but was beaten out by a senior. He went on to place first at the VVAL junior varsity tournament.
“It’s nice to have a family member on the team. It makes it that much more fun,” Rick Manibusan said.
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Rounding out the starters in last week’s meet were sophomores Mekhai Sta Rosa (108), Roman Gamboa (115) and Zakary Raymond (120), juniors Christian Gomez (140) and Matt Ruiz (147), seniors Jonathan Su (154) and Justin Del Rosario (162), freshman Jesse Lopez (172), junior Devin Racel (184), freshman James Aken (222) and sophomore Toby Bunch (287).
Manibusan also expects big things from Del Rosario, who is in his fourth year with the program but wrestled his first match of the season last week after another playoff season in football.
“He’s still coming off shoulder injury and hasn’t had any kind of contact, but he stepped up for us,” the coach said.
Another senior, Joseph Biondini (140) is in his first year of wrestling and – simultaneously, his second year of soccer for the Wolves.
“He came out last year but he was like teetering so he went out for soccer,” Manibusan said.
Rounding out the squad are seniors Anthony Superticioso, Davion Salanga and Jeffery Brown, juniors Nick Sumagang, Jacob Razon, Matthew Ruiz, Mason Brodit, Ryan Chad Cunningham and Jair Ramos, sophomores Luke Lacson, Keanu Kawakami, Jericho Maglalang, Joseph Moreno, Ray Vaughan, Antonio Blanco-Naranjo and Jacob Capicoy, and freshmen Joseph Salazar, Armann Gir, Ranz Carvajal, Nigel Quirk, Ryan Revelo, Kapono Liu, Jan Torres and Nathaniel Willis.
The girls team is led by junior Amaya Maulino (106), freshmen Mylene Rose Francisco (116) and Telorah Kawakami (131), sophomore Sophia Rapacon (138) and senior Emma Lopez (180). Also on the team are junior Shayla Hoang, sophomore Alyssa Sapida, and freshmen Chloe Sanchez, Kathleen Cruz and Hannah Ybarra.
Some of them will compete in Friday and Saturday’s annual Napa Valley Girls Classic at Vintage, the oldest and largest girls wrestling tournament in the country.
As for the boys, it gives Manibusan more hope that last year’s team, which was also generally young, edged Vintage for one of its two VVAL wins.
“I know Vintage is solid this year, so I’m not counting them out,” he said. “There are strong (winning) traditions in this new league, and that’s something we have to acclimate ourselves to.”
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