LA coach expects young team to compete in league

Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Photo Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier

Sophomore Briham Gonzalez is one of Los Altos High’s team captains this season.

The Los Altos High wrestling team probably couldn’t have chosen a worse year to ascend to the upper division of the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League. The Eagles lack wrestlers (18 on varsity and JV combined) and experience (two seniors).

Yet coach Randy Jimenez won’t use these deficiencies as excuses for not being able to compete in the daunting De Anza Division.

“My expectations for this season and for every season have not changed – I always expect to win it all,” he said. “As the head coach, I set the bar high, and just because we have a less experienced team this year, it would be wrong for me to lower that bar because of it.”

So despite acknowledging that the Eagles are in a rebuilding phase – the roster includes just two seniors and six juniors, many of whom did not wrestle prior to this season – Jimenez expects them to rise to the occasion. And he doesn’t doubt they will.

“It is the kids’ job to buy into it and step up to the bar,” Jimenez said. “I have full confidence that all the wrestlers on the team will step up.”

Two matches into the league season, however, Los Altos finds itself a few steps behind the competition. The Eagles lost their Jan. 3 division opener 37-28 to Palo Alto and fell 63-18 to Gunn Thursday.

But Jimenez was encouraged by what he saw from the Eagles against Paly.

“(They) wrestled very hard and gave a good showing for being such a green team,” he said.

A pair of sophomores new to the team – Juan Cervantes (195 pounds) and Brian Wang (113) – impressed the coach.

Cervantes “went the distance against a kid who was a state qualifier from last year,” Jimenez said, while Wang “went out and pinned his opponent in the first period of his match.” Wang never wrestled before this season, according to the coach, and Cervantes last competed in junior high.

Two sophomores with more experience, returnees Briham Gonzalez (132) and Carter Lee (138), serve as team captains, along with senior Paul Hernandez (220).

“The team captains have really stepped up this year and have taken good control of the room,” said Jimenez, who considers this trio his best wrestlers as well.

Defending league champ Hernandez ranks fourth in the Central Coast Section and 38th in the state He pinned his opponent from Gunn in 3 minutes, 35 seconds.

“Paul has all the skill and experience to make a run at a second league title and possibly even make a trip to the state tournament,” Jimenez said. “He has been with the program on varsity for all four years and is a true leader in the room.”

The coach noted that Gonzalez “trains hard and is very knowledgeable with his skills. He has gained a lot of wrestling experience since his freshman year, and it shows in his victories.”

Lee is a “fast and well-skilled wrestler,” Jimenez said. “He has a lot of good leadership qualities and is learning fast. Carter has stepped up this year and shows great potential to become a league champion.”

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