Wrestling team starts the year with fighting spirit

Zack+Innamorati%2C+right%2C+takes+control+of+his+opponent+during+a+recent+Cal+High+wrestling+meet.

Courtesy of Zack Innamorati

Zack Innamorati, right, takes control of his opponent during a recent Cal High wrestling meet.

Eli Mayerson, Sports Editor

This year’s wrestling team is filled with a lot of new faces.

Senior captain Josh Peralta said the men’s team started off with 50 members but the number has since been whittled down to 20, which he points to as a testament to the sport’s intense nature.

Both teams lost former members as well as having a smaller number of underclassmen joining than usual.

“We’re sort of rebuilding after losing a lot of valuable members the past two years,” senior Ella Hofer said of the women’s team.

The men’s team senior captain Josh Peralta added, “Our best wrestler, Conner Gabe, is not wrestling this year because he’s going to the Marines.” 

This was a huge loss for the men. But there are some very promising young athletes who have somewhat filled the void, Peralta said. One such athlete is Naman Rudrakshi, who is a freshman.

“As someone who has seen many freshmen, he has definitely caught my eye,” Peralta said.

The lack of continuity in wrestling could be a problem, especially in a league as competitive as the EBAL, which is one of the toughest leagues in NCS as all 10 schools are ranked high every year. In the last full season, 2019-20, Cal’s men’s team was ranked 14th. 

The Grizzlies are still optimistic about achieving their goals.

“I feel like we’re gonna do pretty well,” junior team captain Zack Innamorati said.

COVID-19 restrictions are tighter on indoor sports such as wrestling. Innamorati said the team is getting rapid tests every Monday and has to wear masks while not actively training.

Last year during a season impacted by COVID, Innamorati said it was tough to find any groove. The season was only six weeks long, which is equivalent to the length of a normal preseason.

“We really had to just get into it last season,” Innamorati said.

In wrestling, records work both individually and for the team. The team record comes from competing in dual meets, where two teams wrestle one match at a time against the other. A pin down provides six points for the winning team and a normal win is three points.

“We really just can’t wait to get out there,” Innamorati said.