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Wrestlers make most of being hosts

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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Breakfast was served and the snack bar was open Saturday at Lincoln High School during the Mark Fuller Invitational wrestling tournament. Head coach Mike Maul even prepared the main course. The meal consisted of 30 teams, with the wrestlers competing individually as side dishes. Maul was exhausted by the end of a long day, but his appetite was satisfied with the Zebras’ performance. Lincoln finished second in team points with142. Oak Ridge won the team championship with 165 points. Following Lincoln was Willows with 107, Wheatland with 97 and Yuba City with 96.5. Leading the Zebras was junior Drew Suchonet, who finished first at 189 pounds and was named the event’s most outstanding heavyweight. Senior Jesse Nakasone placed second at 112 pounds. Those performances made Fuller’s visit worthwhile. The four-time Olympian and California Wrestling Hall of Fame member met with Maul’s wrestlers at practice and then attended the tournament. “They were excited to hear what he had to say,” Maul said, “and to put a face and person to the name.” The invitational was the fourth event this season in which the Zebras have placed in the top three. They finished second at Sheldon and third at the Granite Bay Duals and Western Invitational. Saturday’s tournament provided another challenge as Maul stacked the field with “quality competition.” That made the efforts of Maul, his assistants and the boosters club worthwhile for all. “Quite a lot of time and effort goes into it,” Maul said. “The boosters club is very pivotal in this event.” The snack bar offered the standard munchies, and Maul said the breakfast “was a nice addition.” Dan Williams has coached with Maul for nine years. The other assistants are Bill Durham, Nick Marquez and Allen Varner. They were on their toes Saturday with coaching and running the show. The Zebras did their part to make the competition compelling. Seniors Greg Harlow (147) and Joey Ireland (171) both finished third. Seniors Taylor Unbehaun (119) and Will Dish (215) each placed fourth. Junior Nick Caster was sixth at 160 pounds. Wrestlers pay the price to compete for the Zebras because Maul accepts nothing less. He has established a “level of discipline” and the wrestlers “abide by the expectations or they’re not on the team.” Maul has 46 students willing to make that commitment. “Wrestling’s not a sport for everybody,” Maul said. It was last Saturday for the wrestlers, coaches, boosters, fans and even Fuller – the guest of honor. Fuller made the trip from his home in Oregon to attend the tournament bearing his name. The Zebras followed their tournament performance with a 39-30 victory at Foothill on Tuesday night. Josh Hunt (112), Nakasone (119), Ero Wainio (140) Harlow (152), Ireland (171) and Dish recorded pins for Lincoln.