“Back in the ’90s, NU was a wrestling powerhouse, and I want to bring it back,” said first-year head coach Gary Sumner. “People know who NU is. You go to the Bay Area or down south, they’ve heard of us. I want other schools to be scared to face NU.”
The Miners are off to a good start after opening the season last weekend, placing second out of 20 teams at the Vista Eagle Varsity Invitational hosted by Vista Del Lago. At the tourney, NU had four wrestlers finish first in their respective weight classes.
Sumner knows what it takes to get his team to the next level and regain control of the Sierra Foothill League. He was an assistant coach at Nevada Union for 10 years from 1997 to 2007, then went to coach at Pleasant Valley Middle School while his son went through the school’s wrestling program. Beginning last year, he returned to Nevada Union as an assistant volunteer, and now as head coach, he has the opportunity to bring back the glory days he remembers.
A wrestler himself at Gonzalez High School in Monterey County, Sumner continued on to the collegiate level at Ball State and Sacramento State.
“I want us to be the best team in the section, win the SFL and beat Del Oro and go on to be one of the top teams at Masters,” Sumner said.
These might seem like lofty expectations but not when you have a roster as deep as Nevada Union’s with leaders like Jonny Callas, Sawyer Mosel and Will Sumner.
“They’re my captains. I expect to win most tournaments,” said Sumner. “All the guys are really hard workers. We’re in better shape than everybody. We wore our opponents down in the second and third period. We wanted it more and just took it to them.”
As a junior returning from injury, Will Sumner is eager to pick up right where he left off.
“I’m a little bit flashy on the mat. Everyone else is slapping faces,” said Will Sumner. “When I’m out there, I try to stay calm and use my technique to beat the bigger guys. I moved up from the 128 weight class to the 160s. I did lots of off-season lifting.”
Conditioning may be a significant part of the Miners’ success this season. They run Monday, Wednesday and Friday and lift Tuesday and Thursday. They’ve been conditioning since the beginning of September with the exception of blackout dates.
“We’ve been working on improvement in technique,” said assistant coach Bron Farris, a Nevada Union graduate who wrestled under Sumner in 1999.
There’s a lot of strategy that goes into it with the points they earn in the matches, said Sumner.
It would be great for everyone to win by a pin every time, and if they can’t, then just make sure they don’t get pinned. You have to think of the team, he said.
Callas, a senior, was named the Vista Eagle Varsity Invitational’s Most Outstanding Wrestler. He was honored by the personal achievement.
“I’ve never gotten that award before. It was very exciting for me,” said Callas. “I won the Masters tournament and finished in the top 12 at state last year. I use my athleticism. My brothers Robin and Zach both still help. Hopefully I can take them down one day.”
Mosel is the squad’s other senior captain who accomplished an incredible feat of his own last weekend. “I pinned three guys in two minutes and 30 seconds,” said Mosel. “It’s not the first time I’ve done that. I want to win it all. Last year I got knocked out with a concussion at Masters. I’m meaner than any other person. No one ever taught me how to quit.”
The Miners travel today to the Bear Creek High School Invitational.
To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, call (530) 477-4234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.