The BVAL sends 51 athletes to the tournament. Liberty leads the class with 14; Freedom fields 13. After that, Pittsburg contributes eight wrestlers, Heritage seven, Antioch five, and Deer Valley four.
Lions’ head coach Greg Chappel was pleased by the amount of talent on his campus. “All 14 of our guys got in,” Chappel said. “Three didn’t qualify but got in as wild cards. I only have three seniors total. I just like that they’ll get a little taste of it.”
According to the seeding, six BVAL wrestlers could advance to state. League favorites include Liberty sophomore Devon Lyle (third, 106 pounds), senior Jacob Thompson-Zanarini (third, 132 pounds) and senior Xavier Thompson (second, 138 pounds); Freedom sophomore Ricky Coster (fourth, 120 pounds) and junior Roman Garcia (third, 126 pounds), and Antioch senior Kyle Clark (second, 220 pounds).
While the seeding is important, it doesn’t determine who will advance. Chappel identified the junior trio of Austin Solari (fifth, 126 pounds), Tanner Blank (seventh, 160 pounds), and Zack Hanson (sixth, 170 pounds) as guys with potential to pull an upset, but his message applies to grapplers from all schools.
“They’ve worked hard,” Chappel said. “It’s time to finish up and make a name for themselves. You never know – a lot of it’s mental. If a kid says, ‘I’m ready to go,’ it can happen.”
Local wrestlers got a final tuneup at last week’s BVAL tournament, where Liberty claimed the overall victory. Eight Lions wrestlers won their weight class, combining for 232 points. Runner-up Freedom boasted two winners and six second-place finishers, recording 200.5 points.
Pittsburg’s 144 points edged out Heritage (142) for third. Clark’s win put Antioch at 91.5 points and fifth place, as they topped Deer Valley’s 84-point output.
Lyle won the league’s 106-pound bracket and teammate John Zanarini came out on top in the 113-pound class. Coster grabbed the gold for Freedom at 120 pounds. Lions Solari (126 pounds), Thompson-Zanarini (132) and Xavier Johnson (138) won the next three weight classes. Freedom’s Zachary Irwin earned a win at 145 pounds.
Liberty’s Kevin Milner (152 pounds), Blank (160) and Hanson (170) all came out on top at the BVAL tournament. Dalton Barnes of Heritage earned a victory in the 182-pound class, becoming the second-ever Patriot to win a league title. Pittsburg’s Antonio Baldazo won the 195-pound bracket. Clark, one of the top 220-pound wrestlers in the section, won that division for Antioch. Pittsburg’s Javonte Brooks, a winner at 285 pounds, rounded out the day’s titleholders.
Deer Valley’s highest finisher was Rangle Lowry, who took second in the 285-pound division.