With state-ranked grapplers heading to the mat to start the 2016 season, the Windsor High wrestling team has set a standard, but the results won’t come easy.
Windsor boasts the 2015 All-Empire co-Wrestlers of the Year — who both start the season ranked in the top three in the state — the Coach of the Year and a North Bay League championship team title. The Jaguars will face growing programs in a brawl for individual and team bragging rights.
“It’s going to be a wild one,” Windsor head coach Rich Carnation said. “It could be a four-way tie for the title because even with four state-ranked guys, there are 14 weight classes, so it’s going to be exciting.”
ALL FOR ONE
The Jaguars are led by seniors Dominic Ducharme and Beau Colombini in the 152- and 160-pound weight classes, respectively. Both wrestlers are North Coast Section champions with an eighth-place finish at the state tournament last year.
DuCharme and Colombini are ranked fourth as the season starts, both looking for that piece of hardware from the state tournament in their final seasons.
Locally, DuCharme has Petaluma senior Eric Machado to tangle with, while Colombini will try to hold off Healdsburg junior Anthony Merlo and Sonoma Valley junior Noah Bartolome.
The Jaguars see another No. 1 seed in the NCS as senior Anthony Spallino — who has moved up the state rankings to eighth place in the preseason — will look to dominate the 195-pound weight class.
“Anthony won the tournament in Reno last weekend,” Carnation said, “so he’s the big man right now.”
Fort Bragg senior Matt Hautula holds the top seed in the NCS rankings for the 170-pounders, facing the likes of senior Christian Ohlin of El Molino and senior Wyatt Jones of Middletown.
Ukiah’s Nicolas Iverson will head the Redwood Empire heavyweights as he enters the season ranked first in the NCS and sixth in the state. Iverson finished his junior season with a fifth place finish at the NCS tournament.
“He has already exceeded all those expectations that the wrestling community has put on him, so he’s working with a clean slate right now,” Ukiah coach Thomas Fragoza said. “Anything he accomplishes now is just an addition.”
With Windsor racking up its fourth NBL title last season and the NCS team title in 2014, the Jaguars are the favorites for another title, but with other programs gaining momentum and increasing their numbers, it won’t be a simple takedown.
The Jaguars have six wrestlers ranked high in the early NCS rankings, while reigning Sonoma County League champion Healdsburg has five. Growing numbers in Petaluma, Analy, and El Molino will make it tight in both leagues, but overall the experience will be the ticket, said Healdsburg coach Scott Weidermier.
“If we can stay healthy, then I feel really good about our chances,” he said. “There’s other teams that have really good kids, but for some their experience and depth might not be enough.”
BRAWN AND BRAINS
In a combative sport like wrestling, athletes use every muscle to grind out points, while also using strategy learned from experience. Seniors like Healdsburg’s Joel Anguiano and El Molino’s Samuel MacDonell have the benefit of experience to help motivate them in their final seasons. Anguiano and MacDonell both finished in fourth place in the NCS in their respective classes.