South Tahoe wrestling enters 2016-17 season full of confidence, led by defending state champion Herrera
The South Tahoe wrestling team entered last season primed for immediate success while aiming to lay a foundation that would bear the weight of lofty longterm goals. The Vikings delivered on that promise — and plan to build off that historic campaign during the 2016-17 season.
For this year’s Vikings, the buzz is similar to last season. The main difference was an increased confidence as South Tahoe took the mat for a dual meet Thursday, Dec. 1, against Nevada Union (Grass Valley, Calif.) and Inderkum (Sacramento, Calif.) to kick off its season.
South Tahoe has a roster of 24 wrestlers, including one senior, six juniors, eight sophomores and nine freshmen. As a result, the Vikings will be able to fill all 14 weight classes this season — something that hasn’t happened in a while.
“It’s great to see the program building, and we are excited about all the young guys,” Vikings coach Sean Griffis said. “Being able to field a full lineup will put us in a lot of positive positions as a team. We’ll be a solid dual team and a contender for a team title at some tournaments.”
For the first time in program history, a reigning state champion will lead South Tahoe. Andrew Herrera will look to defend his 195-pound title, and set the tone and pace for the Vikings as the team’s lone senior — a responsibility not lost on him.
“Part of my legacy will be how well I handle the challenge of having a whole team look up to me,” Herrera said. “I want to set a high standard for them that will get carried by future teams at South Tahoe.”
As a junior, Herrera claimed the Div. I-A State championship in dominant fashion last February. He ultimately defeated Dai’jon Payno of Mojave (North Las Vegas, Nev.) 7-1 to deliver the Vikings’ first state title in nearly three decades.
“I realized that the more you accomplish in this sport, the more opportunities there are,” Herrera said. “Having the title is now allowing me to set the bar higher than it was and accomplish personal goals — even when kids are trying to give me their best match every time.”
Herrera isn’t South Tahoe’s only wrestler with his eyes on the ultimate prize. Sophomore teammates Jose Leon and Kody Griffis have also impressed for the Vikings leading up to the season.
Leon starts the season wrestling at 170 pounds after qualifying for state as a freshman — and has the unenviable task of serving as Herrera’s training partner. Griffis finished one match away from a state berth last season at 106 pounds, and has bulked up to wrestle at 120 this year.
“Jose has added an element of explosion to his repertoire,” said Vikings JV coach Ryan Wallace. “He worked hard this offseason building muscle and has been absolutely launching kids around the practice room.”
“Jose has a state champion and Kody has about four guys his size to battle with,” Wallace added. “It’s a huge boost for these guys to have partners that can push them.”
Freshman Nate Singelyn is one of those strong partners. After a standout eighth-grade season at South Tahoe Middle School, Singelyn hopes to quickly adjust to the next level and make some noise this year at 126 pounds.
“It helps a lot to have the same coach as I did last year, so I can focus more on the new stuff — like cutting weight and getting physically and mentally prepared for tough six-minute matches,” Singelyn said. “I’m excited to see what it’s like to wrestle under a spotlight in more intense matches.”
South Tahoe beat host Nevada Union and fell in a close match against Inderkum to open its season last Thursday. The Vikings then took to the mat at Fallon’s Earl Wilkens/Stockman Invitational last Friday and Saturday, Dec. 2-3, as part of a grueling opening three days of competition.
“There was a great vibe heading into our first live competition,” Wallace said. “The football guys are coming in with momentum and a winning mentality, the incoming ninth graders were studs for STMS last spring, and our practices have been spirited, bordering on intense.”
The Vikings return to action Friday, Dec. 9, in the two-day Cody Louk Invitational at Winnemucca Events Center in Winnemucca, Nevada. For more information on South Tahoe wrestling, email email@example.com, like South Tahoe Wrestling on Facebook or download Team App and search for South Tahoe Wrestling.