WATSONVILLE — The Watsonville Wildcatz aren’t focusing what’s out of their control this season.
They know that the only thing they control is what goes on when they step foot on the mat.
Because of low numbers the Watsonville wrestling team will be focusing on making improvements leading up to the Monterey Bay League finals.
“We’ll be competitive on the mat,” said Watsonville head coach Gary Garcia, who has been with the team since 1978. “But we can’t create something that’s not there.”
This season Watsonville will have five open weight classes, which will put them in an automatic 30-point hole during MBL-Pacific matches.
During a dual meet a team is awarded six points for a forfeit in a weight class.
“We don’t have a lot of kids,” Garcia said. “But the ones that are here are committed. We’ve taken on the marine mentality. The few, the brave, the proud.”
But when teams match up against the wrestlers that Watsonville does have they’ll be in for a brawl.
Garcia said their three team captains, David Ceja, Alejandro Mosqueda and Elva Espino are ready to have breakout years.
Ceja (36-13) is a junior that will be wrestling at 170 pounds this season. He competed at 162 pounds a year ago and finished in third place at the MBL finals.
“He’s a competitor,” Garcia said of Ceja. “He likes to compete and doesn’t like to lose. He’s a hard nosed kid.”
Ceja has started off this season on the right foot.
He has been on the podium in all three tournaments that he has competed in. His most recent podium came in the California Coast Wrestling Classic where he placed fourth.
“He has a really good chance of going to the finals (in MBL),” Garcia said.
He is ranked seventh at 170 pounds in the Central Coast Section by CCSRank.com.
His fellow captain Mosqueda burst on the scene last year when he finished seventh at the MBL finals as a freshman.
So far he has wrestled at 195 pounds at all three tournaments that he has competed in, but CCSRank.com has him at No. 12 at 182 pounds.
Garcia pointed out Mosqueda’s commitment to the offseason workouts as a major reason for his early success.
“He’s committed to what it takes to be successful,” Garcia said. “He missed one offseason workout. He wants to be successful and he’s all in.”
Both Ceja and Mosqueda played football, something that Garcia said he encourages and hopes will continue to grow like it has just a short drive up the highway.
“You look at the success of the Aptos football team, a huge percentage of them are on the wrestling team. The two sports really compliment each other.”
The Catz’s third captain Espino, has had Garcia reminiscing of 2010 when Emily Kalka mauled her way to a CCS title.
“I see her becoming an Emily next year,” Garcia said.
Espino, a junior in her second year of wrestling, has seen the podium in the two tournaments -- won the James Lick Invitational -- in which she competed and has kept a 7-1 record.
Garcia added that his other wrestlers Eli Meyers (138, honorable mention in CCS rankings), Juan Alonso (120), Dominic Velasquez (126), Joseph Guerrero, Enrique Ornelas (182), Giovanni Lomeli and Jesus Castillo, are all making improvements.
“The thing is,” said Garcia while pointing up at the boards in the wrestling room at Watsonville High School that are full of past CCS and league champion’s names. “Guys that are with our program eventually excel.”
Watsonville will start their league season Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. with a meet against Monte Vista Christian, and follow that up with the seventh annual Apple Cider Classic wrestling tournament at Watsonville High School on Friday and Saturday.
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