This year’s 17-member Yosemite High Wrestling team is made up of both novice and experienced grapplers coached by YHS alum Kent Lincoln, who is coaching the sport for the 28th season.
“We have a bunch of good athletes on this team,” Lincoln said. “What some of them lack in experience, they make up for with their natural athletic abilities. These guys are quick learners and have the basics of wrestling down ... they are getting better every day.”
Only two seniors are on the team - one who came back after a year off from wrestling, Rocky Lapham - and one wrestling for the first time, Austin Burgeno, who just came off a 744-yard, 11 touchdown rushing season with the Badger football team.
Five members of the varsity team are freshmen. The team participated in the Nov. 25 Havoc in the Hawk Nest Tournament in Ceres. The tournament was the first high school wrestling event for six of the nine Badger wrestlers.
“Our team performed very well with eight of the nine wrestlers placing in the top three of their weight class,” said Jeff Guynn, assistant coach.
In a Nov. 29 dual match, the team beat Mt. Whitney and Exeter, and almost beat Dinuba.
Lincoln told a story from that match that represents the tenacity of the team. “Sophomore Joe (Sandifer) had to wrestle former Fresno State football star Lorenzo Neil’s nephew. In the first period, Joe got thrown around like a rag doll - in the second period Joe scored some points - and then Joe pinned him in the third period. That showed me Joe has the ultimate never-give-up attitude.”
Rumble at the Rock tournament
On Dec. 8, the team traveled to Morro Bay for a two-day wrestling tournament, “Rumble at the Rock.” This is the first year for event which hosted 12 teams from Central California.
The Badgers wrestled in five dual meets on Friday, beginning with an opening match against tournament host Morro Bay. The young team fought a tough match but fell to the Morro Bay Pirates.
The Badgers then continued the day with matches against the North Salinas Vikings, the Santa Maria Saints, and the San Luis Obispo Tigers, finishing the day wrestling the Lompoc Braves. Young Badger wrestlers gave it their all and finished 1-4.
Individual tournaments were held the following day, during which the team started off on a winning streak and never looked back. Yosemite had eight of the 12 wrestlers in the first varsity tournament of their career and they did very well.
The team earned seven medals led by a second place finish by freshman Nicolas Guynn at the 145-pound weight class. Sophomore Joseph Sandifer wrestled very well and finished with a 4th place finish in the 182-pound weight class.
Junior Diego Combs placed 5th in the 145-pound weight class, Caleb Burke a sophomore and first year wrestler placed 6th at 152 pounds, sophomore Ernest Jimenez placed 6th at 160 pounds, freshman Kyler Schaeffer placed 6th in the 126-pound weight class and senior Rocky Lapham finished the day for the Badgers with a 6th place finish at 192 pounds.
“The Badgers overcame a tough start on Friday to finish the weekend very strong,” Lincoln said, adding that he was very pleased with how the tournament went and looks forward to continued success. “The wrestlers are getting better each time we compete and the level of competition continues to get stronger along the way.”
Yosemite High Correspondent