Small team yields big achievements throughout season

March 1, 2011 — by Brandon Judoprasetijo and Deborah Soung

Having overcome numerous challenges throughout the season such as inexperienced newcomers, injury and the loss of players, the wrestling team stayed strong and sent four of its wrestlers to CCS at Independence High School on Feb. 25 and 26. Those wrestlers were juniors Graham Grant and AJ Murabito and sophomores Zach Hansen and Henry Wei.

During the tournament, sophomore Zach Hansen went 0-2, sophomore Henry Wei went 2-2 placing in the top 8, freshman Graham Grant placed in the top 8 and senior Alfred Murabito placed fourth going 5-2, losing to his opponent from Alisal High School by only one point. None finished high enough to move on to the state tournament.

“As a team, I thought we wrestled pretty well, but not as well we could have,” Wei said. “I feel the referees stole the match from Alfred. He lost a really close one. He’s the hardest worker on the team and he deserved to go to state.”

The team ranked fifth in the DeAnza division and ninth overall despite having to combat the difficulties posed by wrestlers leaving the team throughout the season.

“[Members quitting] was mainly a chain reaction,” Wei said. “One person, and then another and another until most of them had quit. It really hurt our ability to score points in duals and tournaments.”

However, what the team lacked in numbers they made up for in strength, finishing ninth at the league finals with only six out of 14 members.

“It is the nature of our sport that we finish with less than we start,” said coach Joe Pele, “but those who stay become the sharp end of the spear.”

No freshmen proceeded to CCS, partially because the younger members had to wrestle stronger, more experienced wrestlers in the upper divisions, according to Wei.

“At the end of the year we had only one senior and one junior who had three years of high school experience, while we had a majority of first years who couldn’t really contribute to team scores on the varsity level,” Wei said. “In terms of varsity wrestling we really only had six or seven contributors to the team score.”

However, the freshmen still show promise, and their youth was seen in a positive light by Pele.

“The fact that we have a young team is to our advantage,” Pele said. “We are becoming what we wish to be, not what was left behind.”

Although it has been a rough season, the team has a positive attitude and looks to improve and send wrestlers to the state tournament next year. At the end of his first year of coaching at Saratoga, Pele looks back at the team with respect.

“They share the strength that comes from being part of an elite crew,” said Pele. “They are the best Saratoga has to offer.”

3 views this week