“The tournament’s going great,” said Freedom wrestling Coach John Parsons during a brief break in the afternoon. “A lot of good wrestling. A lot of good early season matchups – us and Antioch. Antioch is potentially one of the top teams favored to win the league. So we’re seeing how we match up against Antioch. We just wrestled them real tough.”
Antioch came in second in the tournament’s Gold Division and Freedom finished fourth. James Logan was the champion and Foothill placed third.
Freedom finished second in league to Liberty last year, with the title coming down to the heavyweight match. Liberty, which was not at the Shootout, had a big advantage last season in all-everything wrestler extraordinaire David Klingsheim, who has since moved onto pinning guys at the college level. Deer Valley also missed Saturday’s shootout, coming in eighth out of 23 teams at the Ceres Invitational.
Parsons is looking forward to a good season, although his team is young. Falcon veterans include heavyweight Nick Pierce; Travis Castor, a 145 pounder; Roman Garcia, a 119 pounder, who has the potential to be one of the top two guys in the section, according to Parsons; Dominic Dimercurio and Zack Wiley, “who should be section placers, hopefully state qualifiers,” said Parsons; and Austin Estrada.
“And we’ve got six or seven new guys that are real tough but they are a little green,” said Parsons. “But they are showing today they got a lot of heart, tremendous skill. They’ve just got to put it together and make it happen. So we’re going to be in the mix. It’s going to be fun.”
The Falcon Shootout was the first of several tournaments Freedom participates in before league action begins Jan. 13 against Heritage. Tournaments are a good opportunity for the newer wrestlers to get their feet wet in competition without the pressure of a dual meet, according to Parsons. “We’ve got some real good athletic kids from the JVs last year and some first-timers that are coming out and kind of opening some eyes for us,” he said. “So we’ve got a potential by when New Year’s rolls around to have a team that’s real solid and real competitive with anybody that we wrestle out there. That’s kind of what we are looking for.”
High school wrestling is a bit different from the pro sport. Nobody calls anybody’s mother names and no folding chairs are bashed over anyone’s head. But it requires an athleticism and toughness unmatched by any other high school sport, according to Parsons.
“Wrestling truly is the toughest sport on any campus,” he said. “The best athlete on any campus is usually one of the best wrestlers on the team. Whether it’s a star from the football team who comes out and wrestles and is also tough – that guy will tell you that wrestling’s tougher than any day on the football field. The training, the running, the weight-lifting, the things that these guys put themselves through to be in top shape and then still come out here and, like pro wrestling, put on a show. So, without the bulking muscles and high-flying rope slams and that kind of stuff, you still are wowed and awed by the spectacle these guys put on. They are real athletic.”
A match consists of three two-minute rounds in which the wrestlers are awarded points for things like getting an opponent off his feet, escaping from an opponent’s attempt to get you off your feet, maneuvering to get on top of the other guy after starting out on the bottom, forcing an opponent’s back to be less than 45 degrees off the mat and, the coup de grace, pinning your opponent’s shoulders to the mat.
Freedom had a star wrestler a couple years ago, David Prado, who competed in the state championship finals. The next few months will determine who might become the next Prado or Klingsheim in East County.