NU grapplers take big stride forward |

NU grapplers take big stride forward

Two weeks ago, Nevada Union senior Kyle Newman had to settle for second place in the Sierra Foothill League 171-pound division after losing to Roseville sophomore Ryan Fratto in the finals.

One week later, Newman avenged the loss with a 10-1 victory over Fratto for the Division II championship at Oak Ridge High School.

“After finishing second, I put it together mentally and came out ready to wrestle this week,” Newman said. “I worked my butt off last week and it showed on the mat.”

The win not only showed Newman’s determination to stay alive in the state tournament but also epitomized what he and his fellow Miners have been doing all season long.

They’re making strides.

Five Nevada Union wrestlers reached the Sac-Joaquin Section meet in 2009. This time around, in coach Nick Saldivar’s second season, NU doubled its Masters matmen, sending 10 into today’s tournament in Stockton.

Also qualifying for the Masters championships and serving as Bear River’s lone representative is junior 119-pounder Juan Gudino.

Action is set to start 9 a.m. at Stockton Arena.

“With the training we’re doing, it was almost definite that there were going to be a lot more people (reaching Masters) than last year,” said NU junior 140-pounder Robin Callas, who seeks a second straight trip to the state finals.

Another state qualifier, senior Jacob Purdy, says the Miners seek only to take the next step, both as a team and with their own individual goals.

“Getting to state? I pretty much got that goal fulfilled last year,” he said. “Placing at state – or winning at state – is my goal, now.”

While many of the Miners were expected to reach the Masters round of the tournament, some others – including senior Abraham Fish – have come on so strong in the postseason that they’ve surprised, and impressed, their teammates.

“Fish is wrestling really well right now,” Callas said. “It’s really exciting to watch him. It’s finally clicking for him.”

Saldivar said seeing wrestlers like Fish and Newman continue to grow late in the season is satisfying for his coaching staff. But the second-year skipper wasn’t exactly surprised to see 10 of his 12 varsity wrestlers reach today’s showdown in Stockton.

“It’s all mental at this point,” Saldivar said. “Everybody knows the same moves. Everybody is training hard. Everybody wants the same thing. It’s just a matter of who is going to battle through.”

The top seven wrestlers in each weight class will move on to the CIF State Championships in Bakersfield on March 5-6.

Gudino, Bear River’s lone Masters qualifier, hopes to be among that seven at 119 pounds. But in just his second full season of wrestling, he first hopes to make it to the second day of tournament action.

“In the beginning of the season, I didn’t think I would do this well,” Gudino said. “I was planning to go to the PVL and (divisionals), but didn’t think I would go to Masters.

“I hope I can represent well and show them Bear River is still strong in the wrestling division.”

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