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Napa Valley Wrestling: Grapplers place at Sacramento tourney

Napa Valley Wrestling: Grapplers place at Sacramento tourney

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Several Napa Valley grapplers competed in the Sacramento Area Wrestling Association Folkstyle Championships June 4-5 at Roebbelen Center in Roseville.

Wrestling in the 16-and-under age division on June 4 were Vintage High’s Joseph Ellis, who placed second at 220 pounds, and Cassady Lopez, who was third at 126 pounds, and American Canyon High’s Dylan Reyes and Jesse Lopez, at 120 and 195 pounds, respectively.

On June 5, Redwood’s Riley Youngblood (110s) placed third in the middle school division, coming back from a 7-2 semifinal loss with two pins.

In the high school division for Vintage were Leilani Frazer, who was first at 150 pounds, Jessica Mendieta (second at 189s) and Natalie Scott (fourth at 116s). From American Canyon were Devin Garingarao (138s) and Reyes (120s), while Justin-Siena’s Cooper Cohee (120s) placed fourth.

Frazer was in the only matches in her eight-wrestler bracket not decided by pins. She won 7-1 in her opener, 8-7 in the semifinals, and 11-2 in the title match. Mendieta pinned her first foe in 2:47 and got a 25-second pin in the semifinals, before getting pinned in the final in 50 seconds.

Cohee went 5-2, beating some serious competition in a 32-man bracket.

“It was a great start to his soon-to-be season run, and another boost to his college recruiting,” Justin-Siena assistant coach Rob Cohee said of his son, whom along with Frazer, Mendieta and Scott he and Justin-Siena co-head coach Jesse Ward coached when they were middle-schoolers on the Napa Sheriff’s Activities League team.

Cohee was up 7-0 in his first match before pinning his opponent from Hollister late in the third period.

In his second match, he got the first takedown but, after a scramble to start the second period, was caught in a tough position and lost to the eventual second-place finisher.

He won his third match by technical fall, 17-0, countering his opponent’s last-minute home run throw with a takedown and scoring the back points needed to stop the match due to a 15-point margin.

“All of his skills were on display in this match, from quick takedowns to tilts and strong defense,” Rob Cohee said.

Cohee’s fourth match was his toughest win of the day, 4-3, a very defensive match that required him to keep his opponent from tying the score with a 1-point escape with a last-second flurry.

His fifth match determined who would make the medal round.

“He’d already heard the chatter from the next opponent’s coaches suggesting to their wrestler ‘This one will be easy’ after watching Cooper’s fourth match,” Rob Cohee said.

Cohee started the match down 2-1 after the first period. With the wrestlers starting the second period on their feet, Cohee shot in on a deep double-leg takedown and took the opponent right to his back, pinning him in 1:59 and advancing to the medal rounds.

“It’s really motivating to be underestimated when you go to these big tournaments,” Cooper Cohee said. “It’s like if you don't wrestle in the Sac-Joaquin or Central sections, people don’t think you can wrestle. I’ve been wrestling since third grade. I travel all over the country to compete.”

His sixth match was a highly technical one against Nicholas Jimenez of Sacramento that went back and forth. Cohee led by 2 after two periods and sealed the victory with a late takedown, winning 8-5 after letting Jimenez escape with 10 seconds left rather than give up a reversal.

“The sixth match was my favorite match of the day,” Cooper Cohee said. “Nick is a tough competitor and has a lot of wins in the Sac-Joaquin Section.”

In his seventh match, Cohee could only avoid getting pinned as he fell to a Merced opponent.

“I’m happy with how I wrestled today,” he said. “While it was tough to give up football this year, deciding to focus on wrestling year-round was the right decision for me. All the work I put in during the lockdown in my garage is paying off. Last month I started to get college wrestling coaches calling and texting, I don't think I would have got those calls at 120 pounds playing football.”

Cohee plans to compete in the Rocky Mountain Nationals next month in Las Vegas, and for one more month in Colorado, Iowa, and Nevada before starting his senior campaign in November and hoping for a normal 2022 season.

Wrestle Brave Awards

Justin-Siena recently handed out its Wrestle Brave Awards to celebrate the culmination of its pandemic-shortened season.

“We were very pleased with this group and the overall outcome of the season, which we were glad to have eventually get off the ground — and even more pleased we were able to complete the entire season uninterrupted,” head coach Jason Guiducci said. “Those COVID tests were the most stressful part, never knowing if a positive case would arise and our season would be derailed. Prior to every meet, we were successfully cleared with negative tests, the kids were jubilant, and they wrestled as such.”

The Braves’ staff awarded certificates and pins to all participants, several varsity letters, and as well as superlatives to seven Braves.

Jacob Guiducci earned the team's Iron Man Award for the fourth year in a row, capping a stellar career in which he registered 107 wins and three league titles and went undefeated this season for a mythical fourth league crown. He was also lauded for managing to simultaneously wrestle and run track, where he won the 1600 meters and 3200 meters against every Vine Valley Athletic League opponent except Casa Grande.

Cooper Cohee received the Vision Quest Award for his relentless desire to wrestle. During the pandemic, he practiced and conditioned in his garage, found competition where he could, and finished the season with only one loss — to multiple-time VVAL champion and state meet qualifier Nick Trave of Petaluma. His 3-2 loss to Trave, a college-bound grappler, turned the heads of college coaches in Cohee's direction.

Jorge Isaac Dominguez earned the Courage Award for constantly stepping into the fray. The 220-pounder often wrestled twice in a meet to give the opponent’s heavyweight some experience in the 285-pound weight class. His biggest win of the season was a pinfall wrestling up against Drake's heavyweight.

Anthony Fannin received the Commitment to the Sport Award. He spent four years in the varsity lineup and was a tremendous team player, as he could often be seen coaching and cheering all teammates from the bench. He finished his season with an intense pinfall against Bethel.

Brandon Guiducci earned the inaugural Edd Ghiringhelli Weight Training Award, dedicated to Justin-Siena’s longtime and current strength coach. Guiducci was commended for using his time during the pandemic to make tremendous gains while weight training with his uncle, James Guiducci, a longtime football coach in the Napa-Vallejo area. The sophomore lifted two to three times a day during the season, propelling him to several big wins over past North Coast Meet qualifiers.

Sophia Conley was the Braves’ Newcomer of the Year. The freshman had tremendous success tapping into her experience as a youth wrestler for the Napa Sheriff's Activities League club. She was also applauded for inspiring fellow freshman Olivia Velleca to join the squad.

Yahaira "Ya-Ya" Martinez earned the inaugural Lady Brave of the Year award for her gritty relentless style on the wrestling mat and her leadership and care of her teammates.

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Sports Reporter

Andy Wilcox is a sportswriter-photographer for the Napa Valley Register. He's had similar roles in Walnut Creek, Grass Valley, Auburn, Tracy and Patterson. He grew up in Ohio. His wife, Laura, is a pastry chef. He also enjoys playing guitar and piano.

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