The Del Oro High wrestling team has kicked off its season and already has three tournaments under its belt. At 152 pounds, senior Austin Branum has placed first in all three tournaments and returns this season looking for a state meet berth.
Last season, Branum turned in a thrilling fifth-place finish in the state tournament — this year he wants the title. Co-head Coach Dave Sanchez said.
“Austin sets the tone in practice as a hard working leader; it will be exciting to see him fight for the championship.”
Behind Branum, the Del Oro lineup is young and tough. At 170 pounds, Dylan Kainrath returns as a sophomore ranked 30th in the state. He is physically dominant with dangerous throws. Co-head coach Clint Madden said.
“Dylan has a good chance to qualify for the state tournament this year.”
Freshman Zach Ruybal joins the Eagles at 113 pounds with explosive take-downs leading to fast pinning combinations — he finished first at Ponderosa’s tournament, third at Elk Grove’s Curt Mettler Tournament and second at Casa Roble.
Isaac Blackburn returns as a 106-pound sophomore with strength and seasoned skills — he finished second at Ponderosa, fourth at Elk Grove and first at Casa.
Junior Johnny Zieour returns as an exceptional athlete at 132 pounds. He was second at Ponderosa. Transfer sophomore Clayton Hillenbrand shows promise at 160 pounds as he was second at Ponderosa and sixth at Elk Grove.
Tenacious sophomore Zain Demarte returns at 132 pounds. He was third at Ponderosa and second at Casa. Experienced junior Russel Pierce returns to anchor the 195-pound slot. Coming back from early injuries are 120-pound junior Connor Van Liew and 126-pound senior Ryan Hunzinger. At 145 pounds is junior Patrick Neu, at 138 pounds is junior Brendon Montoya, at 182 pounds is senior Kevin Love, at 220-pounds is sophomore Tanner Woods, and at heavyweight is Saul Meneses.
The JV squad is also showing depth for this team. They have not only won, but dominated the three JV tournaments this year and are challenging hard for varsity slots. See Del Oro’s Wrestling web site to follow the team on Facebook.
~ Staff report