Wrestling team prepares for state

 Alecxis Lara wrestles his component at the San Francisco State Tournament on Nov. 12. Lara, hungry for a state title will get his chance at it on Dec. 9 and 10 in Santa Rosa. The team will find out who's going to state at regionals on Dec.3.  (Bob Varner)

Alecxis Lara wrestles his component at the San Francisco State Tournament on Nov. 12. Lara, hungry for a state title will get his chance at it on Dec. 9 and 10 in Santa Rosa. The team will find out who's going to state at regionals on Dec.3. (Bob Varner)

Skyline’s wrestling team competed at the San Francisco State Tournament on Nov. 12, individually scored some high rankings, but as a team finished in the middle.

Alecxis Lara competed in the 197 lb. weight class and took second to a tough competitor from Fresno City College. Lara and the Fresno wrestler met earlier in the season where Lara lost by a much larger margin than he did at the tournament. The two will meet again at regionals and state.

“That will be a tough battle down to the end,” fellow Skyline wrestler Marcel Thomas, said.

Coach James Haddon and the team all agree that Lara will beat his rival at state and win a state title.

Nahie Akoi, in the 157 lb. weight class, ranked fourth at the tournament. As a team, Skyline finished at 8th, a big difference from last year.

“We did pretty good, we could’ve done better,” Haddon said. “Last year the team took first place. The tournament was tougher this year than it was last year.”

“Usually we only have one placer,” Thomas said. “[At the tournament] we had two placers. We did alright.”

All of the dual meets, individual matches and tournaments have been leading up to the regional and state championships. The Regionals are being held at Santa Rosa on Dec.3, the State Championships are being held in Fresno on Dec. 9 and 10.

Coach Haddon said there should be about six guys from the team qualifying at regionals to go to State.

“We should all make it to state,” Blaiz Davis, Skyline wrestler, said. “I should be top four.”

Davis also said that he thinks Lara and Jeff Lima should both win state titles in their own weight classes.

The wrestling team was affected this season by a shortage of men in the lightweight weight classes.

“The shortage of guys doesn’t affect tournaments,” Haddon said. “The more guys you have the better chance you have to win. The shortage of guys hurts in dual meets but doesn’t shut us down. The guys we do have, got more individual attention.”

Haddon and his assistant coach, Mariano Sanchez, have been more focused on the men individually than the team as a whole.

“Even if we had ten guys, you have to boost each guy individually to have a team effort,” Haddon said. “We are more focused on regionals and state than the team as a whole.”

Haddon was the coach for Skyline’s wrestling team until last season he took a year off and Coach Braumon Creighton took over. This season, Coach Creighton left Skyline to take a position at San Mateo High School. Haddon received a phone call in August to return as the wrestling head coach.

“It was nice to have a year off to reflect,” Haddon said. “It’s really nice to come back. I’m looking forward to coming back next year to recruit. The transition was the biggest challenge for the team and myself. Everything was done kind of late and some of the guys weren’t in shape.”

Haddon was impressed by the leadership ability of Lara and assistant coach Sanchez this year.

“Leadership is a big thing,” Haddon said. “My assistant coach Mariano Sanchez has enthusiasm and fire. Alecxis Lara has a lot of experience and leadership, he’s a role model and he works hard.”

Lara is a sophomore on the team this year which means he won’t be returning next year along with Lima and the other veterans.

“The ones that did good were the vets, everyone else was really young,” Davis said. “We won’t have Alecxis or Jeff next season. I think someone’s got to step up to be a leader.”

Haddon spent a lot of time working with the men on developing their skills over most else.

“Having the skills will override a more athletic person every time,” Haddon said. “Every year there is a reoccurring theme. This year, the number one thing coming from the coaching staff to the team, was to develop your skills.”

The team had a tough year with wins due to the shortage of men, but they did beat Shasta College, a big win for them. The team is all preparing mainly for state now. On Dec. 9 and 10, their season comes to an end and they get the chance to gain state recognition.