Wrestlers win league championship


Max Walker, Staff Writer

In order to be a wrestler, an athlete must have resilience, dedication, and mental strength.

This past season, Cal’s wrestling team has not only displayed all of these qualities, but has dominated their way through the league.

Despite the heartbreaking start to the year when coach Kevin Lopez was arrested (see story, page A1), Cal won a share of the EBAL title for the first time in 20 years and advanced wrestlers to NCS for the first time since 2008.

The Grizzlies sent a total of 13 wrestlers to NCS.

“This has been a great experience for all of us,” said first-year coach Chris Chamberlain. “We’re old school coaches and we train the guys like we’ve been training for the past 30 or so years, and it worked.”

The painful loss of Lopez left the team in great need of a new coach and a sense of leadership. This came in the form of Chamberlain and his coaching staff, which includes Bobby Rios, John Silva, Bob Desoto, Gary Cooper, Dave Smith, and Matt Fuerter.

Cal wrestling has struggled to succeed over the past few years.  But the team surprised everybody this year by overcoming their initial obstacles and emerging as one of the best teams in EBAL.

The wrestlers went 8-2-1 overall and 5-1 in league. They were crowned co-league champions with Amador Valley. The season was highlighted by huge wins over Foothill, Granada, and Livermore.

Cal wrapped up league by placing third behind Amador Valley and De La Salle at the EBAL Championships on Feb. 21.

“I’m proud of how we are doing and how we’ve made a complete 180,” said junior Demetri Georgiades.

At the NCS Championships Feb. 27-28 at James Logan High School, the team placed 16th out of 70 schools.

Senior Cole Dohmann placed fifth in the 170-pound weight class. Dohmann started NCS by winning four matches in a row, but fell to fifth   place after losing two of his three following next matches.

No other wrestlers placed in the top eight of their respective weight classes.

Other Cal wrestlers who qualified for NCS included freshman Jonah Perez, sophomores  Andrew DeSoto, Blaine Nye, juniors Justin Tweed, Matt Fuerter, Connor Bartlik,  Gerrik Labra, and seniors David Steckhahn and Jeff Ash.

Senior Cole Melloch and junior David Curley were alternates.

Cal also won three tournaments this year: the Dawn 2 Dusk Tournament, the Kermit Bankson Invitational, and the San Ramon Valley Invitational.

At the Dawn 2 Dusk Tournament Jan. 31 at Marin Catholic High, senior Jordan Manibusan was the champion of the 134- pound weight class and Bartlik was the champion of the 140-pound weight class. Dohmann was the runner up of the 172- pound weight class.

At the Kermit Bankson Invitational Jan. 24 at Albany High, Fuerter was the runner up in the 132-pound weight class. Both Bartlik and Georgiades were the champions of the 138- and 182-pound weight classes, respectively.

At the San Ramon Valley Invitational. Jan. 10 in Danville, Labra was the champion of the 285-pound weight class and Melloch earned third place in the 126-pound weight class.

“I was proud to get Cal’s name out there and let people know that we are a force,” said Bartlik.

Much of the team’s success this year can be attributed to the team’s new, beloved head coach. Chamberlain brought a whole new attitude to the wrestling team. Wrestlers said he prided himself on making practices more advantageous and engaging for all the wrestlers on the team.

“Our practices were more successful because [Coach Chamberlain] focused more on technique and less on conditioning,” said senior captain Shailen Patel.

After a disappointing season last year and the arrest of their former coach, the men’s wrestling team could have just waved the white flag and surrendered. But they took these events as motivation and dominated the season.

“This season has been a bit about catching lightning in a bottle,” Chamberlain said. “We knew we had a few really good wrestlers and several who were up and coming, but we had no idea how it would all work when we put it all together.”