With the 2019-2020 school year in our rear-view mirror, The Register sports staff has turned its attention to the Napa County student-athletes that are returning to play sports in 2020-21.
Per announcements from the California Interscholastic Federation and North Coast Section in late July, the fall season for high school sports in the 2020-21 school year is now scheduled to begin in December and January with the rest of the sports slated to start in February and March to help stop the community spread of the coronavirus.
With that in mind, we continue our Up & Comers series, which highlights rising stars and players to watch for when their long waits are finally over.
Our 50th edition features Robert Gomez of Napa High, Graeson Gamorras of American Canyon, and Jessica Mendieta of Vintage.
School: Napa High
Class of: 2021
Maybe it was first-match-at-first-section-meet jitters in February, when Gomez got pinned with one second left in the first period of his opener at 145 pounds during the North Coast Section Championships at James Logan High in Union City.
Gomez came back with a fury, winning a 7-5 decision and pinning two foes in the second round, before getting eliminated with a 9-1 loss to the seventh-placer.
Any underclassman who goes 3-2 at the section wrestling meet is bound to feel more confident and hungry as ever going into the next season. Gomez should be just that, especially after overcoming injuries to get that far.
Head coach Nacho Franco was impressed after Gomez defeated his Vintage opponent to help the Grizzlies win the Big Game match this year.
“He’s been consistently positive after being banged up all year,” the coach said. ”It’s just good to see that mental and physical attitude from a guy who’s banged up.”
School: American Canyon
Class of: 2022
Gamorras returned to the varsity last winter after helping the Wolves reach the 2018-19 North Coast Section Division II playoffs, where they had lost their opener in double-overtime, 2-1, at No. 5 seed Redwood in Larkspur.
After finishing 9-9-4 overall and third in the Vine Valley Athletic League at 5-5-2 in 2018-19, American Canyon was 3-12-7 overall and fifth in the VVAL at 3-7-2 last winter.
But Gamorras, a team captain, always played like a championship was on the line. The center defender made the All-VVAL First Team and was chosen by the Napa Valley Register as one of five finalists for All-Napa County Defensive Player of the Year.
“Graeson is great. You always see him running up and down the field, putting pressure on teams,” said first-year American Canyon head coach Antonio Orozco.
He’s been making sure he’s ready for this spring’s junior season by training with his Napa Soccer Academy squad at Napa Christian Campus of Education in Napa, abiding by health guidelines in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Class of: 2022
Mendieta is looking to reach her first state meet after placing fifth at the North Coast Section Championships as a freshman, and sixth last winter. A team captain, she won her first three matches before losing her last three at this year’s section meet.
She received the Alyvia Fiske Award at the season-ending banquet.
“Jessica has been working hard and preparing herself for the next level, which is competing at state,” head coach Maika Watanabe said. “She puts forth the effort in practice and throughout last season she proved to be towards the top of her weight class. She is now working on refining her technique to pair with her aggression to be more successful.”
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