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Young CHS wrestling team improving with experience

In certain sports—including tennis, cross country and track and field—individuals may shine even when the team as a whole struggles. Conversely, a stellar performance of one athlete can also lift a team, making everyone play better. This of course, is the desired outcome.

Such has been the story for CHS wrestling recently. Last year, the Pack sent nine wrestlers to the CIF championship tournament, a school record, even though Claremont continued its near drought on winning dual meets. As always the hope for a turnaround is then pinned on the next season.

Fortunately two of those CIF qualifiers, Brandon Fairman and Jonathan Raviv, are back in the queue this year and looking strong. Still, with nine seniors last year, including star Victor Mora, many Claremont wrestlers are new to the sport this year.

The team may be young, but they gave the Glendora Tartans a scare before winter break, leading by as many as four wins before finally losing, 35-48.

 “At the beginning of the line up, we had some of our best kids in there so we did really well. The remainder of the line up is very new to the sport but they did very well,” Coach Gerald Escalante said.

Against Glendora, Fairman got a technical win after by going ahead 15-0 on points, and Raviv pinned his opponent in 45 seconds. David Robledo got a pin in the 138-pound match, as did Juan Carlos Munoz at 160 pounds and Ignacio Blanco at 182.

“We were leading by three to four wins, which would have been great if we could have held on, but with some of the newbies it can go either way,” Coach Escalante said.

Part of the problem stems from an unusually high number of head injuries Claremont wrestlers suffered in preseason tournaments, with several wrestlers sidelined due to concussions. This required Coach Escalante to substitute JV wrestlers in key spots.

“Unfortunately, this year we have been plagued with five or six concussions, so that has really hurt us have to go through that and follow the proper protocol, but their safety comes first,” Coach Escalante said.

He believes Claremont can come in close to schools they compete against. While the Pack did lose a number of seniors, the new crop of wrestlers have stepped up to their new role as team leaders.

“Looking forward to the up and coming matches, we have never competed against Colony so we will see what they can do. We had a very close match against Ayala last year so we are hoping to make that into our win this year,” Coach Escalante said.

Coach Escalante has been leading the Claremont team for 10 years, and four of his children have wrestled for him, including current student Andrew Escalante. His oldest son Matthew came first, followed by daughter Gabrielle and son Daniel.

The match before winter break started with a ceremonial recognition of the Rotary Club of Claremont for its donation of $5,800 to help purchase a new competition mat. Club president Ron Coleman was on hand to accept a Wolfpack wrestling sweatshirt as a thank you from the team. This was the first match with the new mat which is replaced occasionally for the safety reasons.

“Looking forward to a great season see where we go from here. I am anticipating some close matches,” Coach Escalante said.

—Steven Felschundneff

steven@claremont-courier.com