South Tahoe wrestling armed for present, future success, off to strong start in 2015-16 season
The South Tahoe wrestling team has a balance of experience and new talent on its 2015-16 team. With that combination, the Vikings plan to win matches this season while building for the future.
“We have the perfect combination of the ability to win matches now and building blocks for the future,” Vikings JV head coach Ryan Wallace said.
A quartet of upperclassmen leads the Vikings this season — junior Andrew Herrera (195 pounds) along with seniors Michael Valney (138), Blair Binns (220) and Boe Griffis. Herrera placed third in the 170-pound class at last year’s Div. I-A State Championships, and enters his third season hunting for the school’s first state title.
George Rohrbacher is the team’s lone returning sophomore, looking to improve from his debut campaign. South Tahoe entered the season with a strong freshman class of 10 grapplers, forcing practices into the Gold Gym and creating a sense of optimism within the program.
“It is great for them to have older guys to emulate, as well as peers who are demonstrating how a young guy needs to work if he wants to make a name for himself,” Wallace said.
Jose Leon leads the deep, talented freshman class, and is wrestling at 171 pounds while handling the unenviable task of serving as Herrera’s practice partner. Fellow freshmen Kody Griffis (106) and Max Wirth (132) have won matches at the club and middle school levels, and early-season results suggest that success will carry over to South Tahoe.
A pair of female wrestlers looking to form the foundation of a girls wrestling team at STHS rounds out the Vikings’ team coached by Sean Griffis. Sydney Morris and Olivia Herrera hope to start a trend and help build a team that could compete in the CIF Girls Wrestling Championships, in which more than 900 girls wrestled last year.
South Tahoe opened the season Wednesday, Dec. 2, with a dual meet against California opposition at Nevada Union High (Grass Valley). The Vikings split matches against the host Miners and Inderkum (Sacramento, Calif.) to kick off the campaign with success.
Against Nevada Union in its second match, South Tahoe rallied for a 34-33 victory behind the wrestling of Kody Griffis. The Vikings trailed by five points entering the last match of the meet, and the freshman pinned his opponent to capture all six points and deliver a dramatic win.
Herrera outscored his Nevada Union opposition 22-4 while Valney won by a score of 20-4. With the win, South Tahoe bounced back from a 41-23 loss to Inderkum in its season debut.
“Inderkum is of the toughest schools in California, and the reason we made the trip,” Wallace said. “Coach August had his guys well prepared and they are loaded with dedicated kids. It was both a humbling and motivating experience for all of us.”
Herrera fell 7-5 to Inderkum’s Aaron Chapman, a returning CIF State qualifier expected to crack the podium this season. Valney delivered a sound 28-10 victory over his Tigers counterpart.
On Saturday, Dec. 5, South Tahoe took part in one of the toughest early-season tournaments in Northern Nevada. The Vikings wrestled five dual meets in one day at the Earl Wilkens/Stockman Invitational at Fallon, notching wins over Wooster (44-24) and Lowry’s gold team (42-34).
Herrera and Binns each went undefeated in five matches at Fallon. Valney and Leon finished with 4-1 marks.
“At this point in the year we are looking for our wrestlers to demonstrate the things we can’t fix — attitude, resilience, positivity and effort,” Wallace said. “I am happy with the Fallon results because we showed those qualities top to bottom.”
The Vikings returned to action Wednesday, Dec. 9, with a sweep of a dual meet at Truckee. South Tahoe beat the host Wolverines 59-12 before needing a tiebreaker to down Sparks after a 42-42 tie.
South Tahoe started fast against Truckee, with freshmen Kody Griffis, Skyler Bledsoe (113), Troy Gerrard (120), Kai Poletti (126) and Wirth all recording wins. Valney won by technical fall for the fifth time this season, part of a stretch of 59 takedowns in nine matches.
“A lot of guys go their whole careers without recording a tech, so what Valney has done so far is amazing,” Wallace said. “He goes into every match with the mindset of working as hard as he possibly can, no matter the level of opponent.”
Leon, Rohrbacher, Herrera and Binns each delivered victories as the Vikings rolled past Truckee. At 220, Binns delivered four takedowns and a pin in 1:27 to punctuate the win.
“We came out fired up,” Wallace said. “We treat them as a big rival even though it’s been one-sided in our favor the last couple outings.”
In its second match Wednesday, South Tahoe beat Sparks through a tiebreaker. The Vikings outpinned the Railroaders 5-3 to prevail in the tight match and improve to 6-3 on the season — Valney, Leon, Rohrbacher, Herrera and Binns accounted for the pins.
“Our young guys stepped up and our experienced guys were dominant,” Wallace said.
South Tahoe returned to action Thursday, Dec. 10, with a dual meet against Lowry and Lovelock at Lowry — the Vikings concluded competition in the two-day Cody Louk Invitation at Lowry on Saturday, Dec. 12. STHS hosts a dual meet next Wednesday, Dec. 16, against Truckee and Dayton — the match is scheduled for 6 p.m.