PREP WRESTLING: Bruins find stride, eye league title |

PREP WRESTLING: Bruins find stride, eye league title

Brian Shepard
Special to The Union

Bear River’s wrestling team swept its first Pioneer Valley League double dual, notching impressive wins over Marysville and Lindhurst, on Jan. 8.

Now, the Bruins are poised to make a run for the league title.

“Overall it’s taken four tournaments for this young team to find their cohesiveness and now they’re starting to come together,” said Bruins head coach Kevin Figueroa, whose squad defeated Marysville and Lindhurst, 63-15 and 62-21, respectively. “At the double dual match in Marysville it came together really well. We shined.”

Led by juniors Skylar Miller and Ashlyn Canizalez, the 2020 Bruins are a young bunch with trememdous potential.

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“It’s been really fun,” added Figueroa. “A majority of our team members are freshmen and sophomore wrestlers. Trying to get them to bond. There’s only six juniors and no seniors. All of them are coming in with experience except for maybe four.”

Miller, wrestling in the 120-pound weight class, has had a strong start to the season, finishing first at the Wheatland tourney, fifth at Oakdale and eighth at the Joe Rios tourney.

“I’m trying to go to State this year,” said Miller. “I did place at a couple big tournaments. I’m just focusing on getting better shots, working on my top more and then getting up from the bottom. I’ve been wrestling for basically all my life and it’s fun watching us progress more and more. I just get in the zone and go for it.”

Canizalez, who pinned her opponent at Marysville and recently competed at Napa for a regional qualifier has also brought a lot of fire to the mat this season, including some new recruits.

“I just got back from an injury so I’m really excited to be back out on the mat,” said Canizalez, who got a few of her female friends to join the team this year. “It’s definitely very different, I guess. We don’t have any seniors so me and Skylar Miller are the only people with more experience. It’s really nice. I know how they look up to me, like how I looked up to my upper classmen and I’m really excited to be here with them.”

A highlight for Canizalez this season came at a tournament in Sacramento where she overcame an opponemt she had previously lost to.

“At Sactown Throwdown I made it to the finals and I saw an opponent that I had lost to before and I made it and I beat her and I actually broke her fingers,” explained Canizalez.

Bear River’s 19-person roster currently fills all 14 weight class categories, leaving no gaps for forfeitures during the duals, something the Bear River wrestling program has worked hard to achieve over the years.

Other notable Bruins joining this year’s team are Figueroa’s son, Kayd, and footballers Jacob Vaughn, Waylon Spence, Tyler Dzioba and Nick Pasciuti.

Also offering extra expertise on the mat during practices to help sculpt the young talent are former Bear River wrestlers Noah Danieli, Carter Danieli, Trae Nix and Sam Elizondo.

Bear River hosts a double dual versus Center and Foothill on Thursday, where the team has a chance to do something special.

“If we can win those two we’ll be league champions,” said Bruins coach Jeff Danieli. “Probably toughest competition is Center. They’ve got eight or nine seniors on their team, but we just went against a couple tough teams that we beat up on pretty bad. They’re all tough. These guys that are here want to be here. That’s the cool thing. They want to keep wrestling. They want to keep learning. Some of them want to learn too quick, but they want to be here.”

Brian Shepard is a freelance sports writes who contributes to The Union regularly.

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