Issuu on Google+

S E C T I O N 2 June 22, 2011 ■ Stories about people and events in A LSO INSIDE RE A L E S TAT E 24 |CLA SSI F I E D S the community. 29 Going to the mat Beechwood’s first wrestling club takes team trophy “O By Sandy Brundage ld fashioned double! Old fashioned double!” Coach Nathan Pantoja’s commands echo off the walls of the Onetta Harris Senior Center in Belle Haven as his young wrestlers scrabble to stay on their feet during practice. “Finish! Finish! Beautiful.” The Beechwood Wrestling Club started from scratch back in September, thanks to Mr. Pantoja and a former Menlo Park police officer, James Lavano, who drove down once a week from Sacramento to help coach. “We’re making it work through donations,” said Mr. Pantoja. “One lady covered an entire trip, $600, for food, hotel rooms.” Donated time, donated space, donated mats. Sometimes it even takes asking for more time, to spread out payments. Michelle Le Almanac Staff Writer Almanac photos by All the generosity has carried the team to tournaments as far away as Sacramento. At their last meet, 11 of the 12 elementary school kids who competed earned medals. Not bad for wrestlers who didn’t know a sprawl from a belly down 10 months ago. As practice continues on a warm Thursday afternoon, the corners of the room sometimes fill with those who “got hit in the soft spots,” as one young man put it. Fifteen recruits eventually responded to 2,000 fliers advertising the club. If potentially painful practice isn’t enough to frighten away prospects, the uniforms might be. “At first, absolutely, you don’t want to wear the singlets,” admitted Mr. Pantoja. “But now they’re sold on what wrestling is. It’s one of the most charactertesting sports. It’s just you on the mat; you have to have courage to get out there. And to go out there and lose.” His wrestlers have done their share of winning, though. They’ve become the undercover team to beat, according to their coach. The club took home the Peninsula League Elementary Division second-place trophy in May. Girls just wanna have fun One team member, sixth-grader Bianca Vargas, stood out not only for her skills, but also for how she chose to deploy them. Girls wrestling boys made national headlines in February. In Iowa, Cassy Herkelman, 14, became the first girl to win a state wrestling match there after her male opponent refused to wrestle a girl, according to the Associated Press. So far, Bianca hasn’t encountered that problem, although someday soon her wrestling skills might send the boys running from the ring for different reasons. Peninsula League Championship Beechwood Wrestling Club results: ■ 1st Place: 90 lbs., Anthony Sanchez; 100 lbs., Alex Ruiz Sanchez; and 52 lbs., Casey Hall ■ 2nd Place: 123 lbs., Jordan Palacios; and 99 lbs., Angel Vargas. ■ 3rd Place: 110 lbs., Raul Ponce; and 130 lbs., Mikael Billingsly. ■ 4th Place: 95 lbs., Bianca Vargas; 119 lbs., Ruben Ponce; 145 lbs., Aji Akinola; and 99 lbs., Quinnton Allen. She took fourth place at the club’s last meet, losing to two boys — and beating two others. “Pinned one of them,” said Mr. Pantoja. Bianca could have won an individual See BEECHWOOD, page 23 ABOVE: Rolling up a mat after practice are, from left, Angel Vargas, Jean-Carlos Gomez, Anthony Sanchez, Coach Nathan Pantoja and Bianca Vargas. IN THE COVER PHOTO, Coach Nathan Pantoja instructs Anthony Sanchez (in the red shirt), who is wrestling with his brother, Alex Ruiz. Almanac photo by Michelle Le. June 22, 2011 N The Almanac N21

The Almanac 06.22.2011 - Section 2

Related publications