In a hectic and successful season, the El Portal Middle School wrestlers had a strong showing, both on the mats and in the classroom. Leading the team again this year was head coach Dimos Birakos.
“First of all we had the State qualifier on Feb. 26 in Oakdale and the following eight wrestlers qualified, Jaden Fontes, Sebastian Snow, Austin Roberts, JW Mills, Aidan Krieger, Christian Rowe, Garrison Gerber and Gabby Meneses.”
Then came the state tournament in Clovis on March 25.
“Out of the eight that qualified, all but Gabby Meneses wrestled in it. She did not due to the fact that we had the girls State/Nationals and I wanted her to be rested and to focus on that tournament,” Birakos said.
In the State Meet at Clovis, Jaden Fontes and Sebastian Snow each placed seventh.
“The other five guys had a good tournament but finished in the top 12, just shy of a win from placing in State,” noted Birakos. “The whole team has been working extremely hard all year and their hard work has been paying off.
“As for Jaden he is a kid that’s never wrestled before so for him to place in State was pretty awesome, he also led the team in wins this year with 22.”
Birakos also pointed out the hard work that the team did in the classroom.
“As for numbers, the biggest number this year was 3.15 which was our overall team’s GPA. From the 30 wrestlers on the team we had 18 of them with a 3.0 GPA or higher,” the coach noted.
Recent weekend action saw the middle school’s three lady wrestlers, Alexis Barron, Gabby Meneses and Mia Otero, all headed up to State/Nationals in Vallejo, at Jesse Bethel High School. Saturday was State and Sunday they had Nationals.
“The girls State tourney was pretty awesome, most brackets were either a 16-man bracket or 32,” Birakos explained. “Alexis Baron went 4-1 the first day to place third, Gabby Meneses went 4-2 to take fifth. They just wrestled nails, all business, just went out there and took care of things and kicked butt.”
The following day was Nationals, which included girls from Nevada and Oregon.
“Unfortunately this was kind of a letdown after state because many girls passed on it, but now we had new faces to compete against,” Birakos said. “Gabby was unable to compete due to her knee but Alexis continued working hard and she placed fifth. As for Mia, after not having the best of tournaments the day before, she went out there hungry and was also able to finish fifth. Overall it has been a great year.”