Lincoln wrestlers go for another PVL title

Graduation leaves behind a young team
By: Jim Linsdau News Messenger Sports Editor
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A young group of Fighting Zebras will represent Lincoln High this season in wrestling after last year’s graduation took a big toll on the team. However, the reigning Pioneer Valley League champions still have a solid shot at the title again this year. Head wrestling coach Mike Maul, now in his 14th year at the Zebras’ helm, isn’t conceding the crown his grapplers won last year. He expects the competition to be fierce, but in spite of the youth on his team he includes the blue-and-gold when listing the league’s top teams. “We won last year, but any one of four teams could have won it,” Maul said during a recent practice. “Foothill, in my opinion, is probably the team to beat on paper. I would say Foothill, Bear River, Placer, and (Lincoln) all have a pretty legitimate shot at it.” Maul said he has good numbers again this year, which is a plus in wrestling. In certain matches a school is allowed to bring as many wrestlers in any weight class as it has. If their opponent doesn’t have a wrestler to face them, it’s a forfeit. However, Maul said the coaches are good about matching wrestlers according to skill, and experience. He said if he had a strong junior varsity wrestler going up against a weak opponent, he could pull his wrestler in favor of one whose talent is a closer match to that of the opponent. It gives both an opportunity to gain more experience. “What is nice about wrestling,” Maul said, “as long as my kids make all the tournaments I can guarantee them about 10 matches a year. There’s no hiding on this team.” Something that’s also not easy to hide is the fact some of the wrestlers are girls. Maul wasn’t certain about that situation when confronted with the issue a few years ago, but the effort his girls have put forth to prove themselves convinced him otherwise. In varsity, it’s top performer against top performer. When a wrestler is designated to represent his, or her, team at that level, it’s all or nothing. Maul said there have been some girls with the ability to take their skills all the way to state – in the boys division. However, Maul said when wrestling at sections or state there is an all-girls division, still, it’s optional. “Once it gets to sections and state, which are the top two levels of wrestling, at that point they can go on their own,” said Maul. “They don’t have to; they can choose to wrestle the guys if they want to.” Maul said Fighting Zebras wrestler Gabby Eslinger has the potential to win state in the 106-pound class. “They work hard, and I’m proud to have them,” Maul said of his girl wrestlers. “They work just as hard as everybody else.” Maul has been working to establish a feeder system for Lincoln High. He said schools like Vacaville and Elk Grove begin training their future wrestlers as early as the fourth grade. He’s pleased with the progress one of the local middle schools has made, and feels Lincoln’s feeder program is on track. “Twelve Bridges Middle School has really come a long way,” Maul said. “We’re on the right path. I’m very proud of what we’ve put together here.” Maul isn’t that concerned as to his team’s youth. He said the Zebras’ program has been consistently competitive, and he doesn’t see that changing, in spite of seeing his crown-winning seniors graduate. After 14 years of coaching at his alma mater, Maul’s confidence in his wrestlers is evident. His numbers run in the low 40s, and that’s been constant over the years. Now that freshman are entering Lincoln High with some experience in the sport, he feel’s the Fighting Zebras will always challenge the rest of the league. “We’re real proud. We have a consistently competitive program,” Maul said. “We’re not going to mow anybody down, but every year we’re going to have numbers and fill all our weight classes. And we’re going to be well prepared.” Lincoln High wrestling 2011-2012 roster 106 pounds – Sean Brasher, Justin Brockman, Gabby Eslinger, Austin Freymond, Anthony Jossis, Anthony Ruiz. 113 pounds – Landon Croisant, David Durham, Jon Durham, Joseph Palencia. 120 pounds – Evan Derhenrage, Juan Ramirez. 125 pounds – Mike Gomez, Nicollette Lipman. 132 pounds – Bryant Garcia, Ryan Giles, Ricardo Lopez. 138 pounds – Jake Palmyra, Randy Rasmussen, James Sheridan, Dara Shokrikhanegah. 145 pounds – Tye Karsikas, Parker Redford. 152 pounds – Joe Moran, Chris Sandoval, Justin Serra, Ero Wainio. 160 pounds – Marcus Gillett, Shye Mosier. 170 pounds – Luis Garcia, Josh Myers, Alex Shima, Emily Solarzano. 182 pounds – J.D. Edwards, Drew Suchomel. 220 pounds – Jake Morris.