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By Steve Sohanaki
Last Season: The San Clemente High School wrestling team finished second in the South Coast League.
Players to Watch: Mike Marshall and Alexander Ames.
Circle ’em: League matches against Trabuco Hills (12/16) and Laguna Hills (1/20) will be among the Tritons biggest of the year.
After taking second place behind Laguna Hills at the South Coast League Finals last season, the San Clemente wrestling team is hoping to make a comeback this year and emerge as the league champion.
The league schedule presents a veritable gauntlet for teams to run through. The high-profile South Coast League includes the sixth-ranked Tritons, Dana Hills, No. 3 Laguna Hills, No. 5 Trabuco Hills and Mission Viejo.
That hasn’t stopped the Tritons from aiming high.
“Our goals are to go undefeated in all of our league duels, qualify 14 of our guys for CIF and then win the CIF Tournament,” San Clemente head coach Mark Calentino said.
Calentino said the biggest challenge in coaching high school wrestlers is keeping them motivated to work hard. This year that hasn’t been the case.
“The main difference between this year and last year is that I just don’t hear about kids slacking off,” Calentino said. “I haven’t caught any kids taking shortcuts on our runs and they’re doing plenty of hard work outside of the wrestling room too. They’re just way more self-motivated than last year’s team.”
The team currently has three returning CIF place finishers and one returning state qualifier in senior Mike Marshall (182 pounds). Marshall placed fourth at the CIF Masters tournament last season and trained with El Dorado High School’s national dual team during the offseason.
“I want to place in the top five at the state tournament,” Marshall said. “I’ve improved a lot since last year and I’m really motivated.”
Senior Alexander Ames (197 pounds) also trained on his own during the offseason by traveling to Minnesota and enrolling in the J. Robinson Intensive Wrestling Camp, a prominent development program headed by University of Minnesota head coach J. Robinson.
“It opened my eyes to what I need to do to improve myself and gave me a mental edge,” Ames said.
Date Opponent Location, Time
12/2 SC 8-Way Tourn. SCHS, 3 p.m.
12/5-6 Millikan Duals LB Millikan, 2 p.m.
12/9* Dana Hills DHHS, 7 p.m.
12/12-13 Edison Beach Bash Invit. Edison, 2 p.m.
12/16* Trabuco Hills SCHS, 7 p.m.
12/19-20 Brea Olinda Invit. Brea Olinda, TBA
12/29-30 Reno Tourn. of Champs Reno, 10 a.m.
1/3 Ontario Invit. Ontario, 9 a.m.
1/6* Mission Viejo MVHS, 7 p.m.
1/16-17 Temecula Invit. Temecula, 10 a.m.
1/20* Laguna Hills SCHS, 7 p.m.
1/24 SC Rotary Tourn. SCHS, 9:30 a.m.
1/31* SCL Finals Aliso Niguel, 10 a.m.
*–denotes league meet