Nine wrestlers compete at NCS after second place league finish
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Wrestlers found their home this season. Last year, a majority of the lunchroom was walled off and transformed into a wrestling room, and this was the first full year the team had a dedicated practice area. The addition of a private practice space helped send nine competitors to the North Coast Section on Feb. 24.
Four of the nine wrestlers – senior Grant Chachere, junior Skyler Morford, sophomore Gage Mettler and freshman Cole Sanchez – made it to the second day of competition, where Sanchez was the highest, placing with a 6th in the 120-lb bracket.
Senior Jaxon Pandelis and juniors Cormick Hamilton, David Maake, Greg Ayala and Nathan Sutton also competed in NCS. All nine earned their NCS spots at the Diablo Athletic League (DAL) finals, where Morford took the only first place and Sutton took a second.
Chachere said this year consisted of a young but strong team, and he credits Coach Mike Wenzell and the coaching staff. “He inspired me to push myself,” Chachere said. “He made me become a better man and player. Wrestling is a hard sport. He pushed us hard. Coach Wenzell and the assistants made us a close team.”
The team, led by captains Hamilton, Morford and Mettler, finished second in the regular season DAL. “The only team we lost to was Las Lomas, but we ended up beating them in the NCS duals two weeks before the NCS individual competition,” Chachere said.
Wenzell said earlier in the season he is thrilled about how the wrestling room has improved practices.
“Having the new wrestling room is absolutely fantastic for the team,” said Wenzell, who has coached at Northgate since 2008. “We used to spend 15 to 20 minutes before practice moving tables and rolling out mats, then 15 to 20 minutes after practice rolling up mats and re-setting tables. Our practice time is now longer and much more efficient.”
Senior Sean Chen has been on the team all four years. “Originally we had to roll out the mats, but now we can just walk in without the hassle and we can start practice,” said Chen.
“The new wrestling room looks great and it’s nice not having to roll out the mats every day,” Hamilton agreed.
Wenzell describes the room as a “place of pride” for the team and for Northgate, describing some details of the new room such as wall mats, pull-up bars, circuit training and audio and video systems.
“We have also displayed pictures of past teams, going back 20 years and have recognized past Northgate wrestling champions with our ‘Wall of Fame’ and ‘League Champions’ wall,” Wenzell said.
Wenzell also had some inspiring words about the sport. “The individual aspect of the sport of wrestling teaches one accountability, responsibility and humility,” he said. “You can not blame a loss on an error by the shortstop, a missed block or dropped pass by a teammate. It is all on the individual to prepare – physically and mentally – for a match. And these attributes of the sport – the responsibility and accountability for your own performance are carried over into all aspects of life – academics, employment and personal relationships.”