Grapplers get back in shape after break
At practice, the wrestling team is running laps through the halls of Tahoe-Truckee High School.
After several laps on two floors, some of the wrestlers stop, arms on their hips, panting. They want to take a break.
“No. We’re gonna run some more,” wrestling coach Al Salas tells them. “We’re back to conditioning.”
Salas knows the holidays have not been kind to his wrestlers. With turkey, dressing and gravy served on a regular basis in December, the team has gotten out of shape, some gaining as much as eight pounds.
Star wrestler Santiago Mendoza, who started the season at 152 pounds, is now at 160.
“The guys are really out of shape,” said Salas. “The holidays take their toll on them.”
A meet at Spring Creek over the weekend only served to underscore the importance of the conditioning the team will endure for the next few weeks.
Halfway through the tournament, more than half of the team had been eliminated by defeat. Only Mendoza, James Curtis, Brian Beno, Brian Kendrick and Neal Seelhoff remained in contention by Saturday.
Mendoza pinned a Sky Mountain, Utah, opponent in less than 30 seconds in the first round.
Later, against an opponent from Buhl, Mendoza was pinned after five minutes and eight seconds.
After losing to the fifth-ranked wrestler in the nation, Mendoza went on to place fifth in the tournament.
“Santiago’s looking good,” Salas said. “He’s wrestling well against 4A teams, powerhouse teams from other states. He’s got a good chance at state.”
After several wrestlers were eliminated, Salas decided to take them over to a junior varsity tournament in Elko.
Coming off a shoulder injury, Ray Mroczkowski returned to the team, but not in time to wrestle varsity in the tournament.
Instead, Salas let him wrestle in the JV tournament in Elko.
“He did well, he took second. He lost to a guy from Centennial, in Utah, which is another powerhouse school.
“Otherwise, he would have taken first,” Salas said.
Despite the injuries, gained
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