Wrestling: Hollister Middle Schools gather for tourney

Hollister schools are using their athletic facilities more often these days, cutting back on time available for city recreation. Here, the wrestling teams from Maze, Rancho San Justo and Spring Grove gathered at Maze on April 8 for a non-elimination tourn

Wrestling has always been popular in Hollister, with the sport’s heyday in the city lasting a couple of decades from the mid-1980s to 2010, when San Benito High’s Adolpho Davila won the 119-pound weight class in the Central Coast Section Championships.
The Haybalers haven’t had an individual champion since, and their last team title came in 2008. However, judging by the April 8 Hollister Junior High wrestling tournament—which featured Maze, Rancho San Justo and Spring Grove—the sport still resonates strongly in Hollister.
For the first time in several years, all of the Hollister middle schools that had wrestling programs got together for a round-robin tournament. In all, 68 wrestlers from the three schools competed in two matches each.
There were no official winners, as each wrestler received a medal for competing at Maze. Although the event drew a decenfinishet crowd, no entry fee was charged.
“The goal at the end of the day is to keep promoting the sport,” said Balers coach Brian DeCarli, who was the tournament’s organizer along with Maze coach George Stagi, Rancho’s Bill Parcell and Spring Grove’s Andy Parra. “It’s really special because there are not many towns where you can have your own city tournament and not have to rely on inviting out-of-towners to fill the tournament up.”
DeCarli said he remembers a time talking to other coaches outside of the area and how they used to comment on Hollister schools bringing busloads of kids to tournaments.
“It’s not back to that point yet, but we’re getting back up there to that level,” said DeCarli, who also served as one of the referees in the tournament. “In general, there was some really good wrestling from all three schools. You saw kids just battling and competing, something Hollister kids are known for.”
Stagi said the tournament was nothing but a positive for the wrestlers, coaches and everyone in attendance. On his Maze squad, Stagi has 18 wrestlers, 10 of whom compete regularly in tournaments.
In fact, Maze competed in a tournament two weekends ago even though the middle school season had been complete.
“I notice by being engaged with the parents and the community, there’s been a big stimulus to the program,” Stagi said. “The fact that we all came together and saw the high school wrestlers helping out, it was very encouraging. You can’t put a price on the memories these kids are going to have. The kids will look back at this time and realize it was some of the best moments of their lives.”
Stagi said the Maze team will continue practicing through the end of the month, with the club season imminent. Stagi has a son, Jonas, who wrestled as an eighth grader at Maze this past season.
All of the coaches know just how important it is to promote the sport and get kids to start wrestling competitively by the time they get to their middle school years. San Benito County has been a hotbed for wrestling talent in the past, and there’s no reason why it can’t get to that level once again.
Of course, it all starts with kids getting match experience years before they reach high school, and everyone involved in the city tournament hopes this was the start of something greater.
DeCarli said it was a festive atmosphere, highlighted by the fact that many of the same wrestlers who competed in the tournament will probably end up being teammates in the future at San Benito High.
“It’s things like this that show why wrestling has always been a strong sport in this town,” DeCarli said. “Hopefully we’ll keep building on this for years to come.”

Leave your comments