Freshman wrestler helps lead team with skill January 22, 2016 — by Ami Nachiappan After listening to head coach Jose Gamaz’s motivational speech and a few songs to pump him up, freshman Clayton Murabito prepared to wrestle a “pretty strong guy” at a tournament in Cupertino on Jan. 8. After listening to head coach Jose Gamaz’s motivational speech and a few songs to pump him up, freshman Clayton Murabito prepared to wrestle a “pretty strong guy” at a tournament in Cupertino on Jan. 8. Murabito went on to pin his opponent in the first period. “I think that as a freshman, I’ve done well since I placed third at a varsity tournament,” Murabito said. He follows his two older brothers’ footsteps in wrestling, 2012 graduate Alfred Murabito, who currently wrestles at the University of Pennsylvania, and 2015 graduate Christian Murabito, who won the CCS wrestling tournament last spring and attends Brown University, where he is on the wrestling team. “It’s definitely a lot of pressure, but I’ve been training for two years now and look up to them as mentors,” Clayton said. After wrestling for three years in middle school, Clayton said he enjoys high school wrestling as he is able to compete against more experienced opponents and spend time with teammates. “I love tournaments because [they] give me a chance to just be with my teammates and bond with them,” Clayton said. According to assistant coach and history teacher Kirk Abe, the young team is improving, winning its first two dual meets against Lynbrook and Harker. The Falcons won 36-24 against Harker on Jan.14. “This season has been a mix—we're a very young team and with that there have been some successes at some of the tournaments and matches which we’re really happy about, but we also have experienced bumps in the road that we're learning and growing from," Abe said. However, the team’s second victory against Lynbrook on Jan. 7 required no athletes to wrestle. Because it was Lynbrook’s home meet, it was its responsibility to schedule a referee to oversee the matches. But because Lynbrook failed to get a referee, the match was treated as a forfeit. The Falcons automatically won. Though the athletes did not competitively wrestle against the Vikings, they held practice matches to help hone their skills. As in the past, the team’s goal once again is to continually improve and peak during league finals, which will take place in the first week of February. Currently, both Clayton and senior Adam Camp are ranked in the top 20 for CCS, which will take place in March. “At this point we really want to be ready for league finals, and we’re hoping to get some guys to CCS and maybe even to the state meet,” Abe said. Though Abe was the head coach prior to 2010, he has not coached wrestling in six years. As this is his first season back in years, Abe finds coaching to be a rewarding experience, though it is extremely time-consuming. “I really do enjoy coaching, and even though it's been time-consuming with all of the administrative duties like weigh-ins, lineups and scheduling, it's been so rewarding to work with the kids," Abe said. Because the team is relatively small in numbers, with 17 athletes, Abe hopes to get more people interested in wrestling in the future. “Our overall goal is to strengthen the team and bring up the numbers,” Abe said.