On-the-mat training stimulates Vikings | TahoeDailyTribune.com

On-the-mat training stimulates Vikings

Tahoe Daily Tribune Staff Reports

JIm Grant/Tahoe Daily Tribune J.P. Foster throws a half-nelson on teammate Edgar Simental during wrestling practice Tuesday.

By Steve Yingling

Tribune sports editor

Thirty-three years as a wrestling coach has taught South Tahoe High’s Jack Lopez that there is no substitute for firsthand teaching on the mats.

Now that he’s 59 years old, Lopez does most of his teaching off the mats. Fortunately for Lopez and the program, two assistants fresh out of college wrestling programs are giving the Vikings on-the-spot training.

Jason Scurti, who wrestled at Fresno State, and Ken Robbins, a former collegiate wrestler in Missouri, are demonstrating escapes and aggressive moves that should help the Vikings attack instead of react.

“The two young guys have enough enthusiasm to fill the gym 10 times over,” Lopez said. “They are doing a majority of the mat work, there is no secret in that. I can’t express my gratitude enough.”

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Team members are also appreciative of the added coaching.

“It is a good advantage,” said second-year varsity member Nathan Sweeney. “We get to learn fresh things – things we wouldn’t learn if the coaches weren’t on the mats with us. They are showing us a lot of new stuff that we didn’t learn last year.”

For now, Robbins and Scurti are unbeatable on the mats, but they aren’t as dominant in other areas of the sport.

“We can’t beat them on the mats, but in the weight room we can,” boasted junior J.P. Foster.

Lopez’s 26-member team has an interesting mix – an experienced core of upper division wrestlers and a talented group of freshmen for the lower weights.

Filling the upper classes are Foster, 215 pounds; Oscar Moreno, 189; Sweeney, 171; and Edgar Simental, heavyweight. There are several wrestlers who are versed in the sport at the lower levels as well. Rusty Faulkner, a senior, will wrestle at 119 pounds and senior Daniel Duysters at 125 or 130.

“They are a good, solid group of kids who will carry us,” Lopez said.

How well the Vikings perform in the team standings likely depends on a deep freshman class.

“It’s the finest freshman group that has come along in many years,” Lopez said.

The impactive freshman class includes 160-pounder Miles Wallace; Lee Williams, 112; Mikey Crouse, 103; and Jake Fonken, 135.

South Tahoe’s heavier wrestlers got their first glimpse of the freshmen during wrestle-offs earlier this week. They came away impressed.

“Quite a few won. We knew they could do it,” Foster said. “I’m fired up for the season. A lot of us have been hitting the weights and are in really good shape.

“We have a lot of experience in the upper classes and we’ll see what the freshmen will do for us.”

South Tahoe was originally set to open its season on Wednesday against Reno, but the Huskies were low on numbers because the school’s football team has advanced to the state finals for the first time since 1984.

Consequently, the Vikings will make up that match on Jan. 21 and open their season today in Truckee. Matches begin at 4 p.m.

– Tribune Sports Editor Steve Yingling can be reached at (530) 542-8010 or syingling@tahoedailytribune.com