Two wrestling teams and one stellar season

by Boladale Erogbogbo (’23) | March 10, 2023

Photography by Nathan Lee (’24)

Following a 5-0 Boys’ season and a 2-1 Girls’ season, the Saint Francis Wrestling teams have solidified their teams as some of the top programs in Northern California. The Boys’ team has awards across the board, with Bryce Luna (’24) becoming the fourth 2x State Placer in Saint Francis history. The junior finished fifth at the CIF State meet, adding another valuable achievement to his already expansive resume. Also adding to the Lancer glory, the Girls’ Wrestling Team had five qualifiers for the CCS Masters. During the championship, Junior Sa’ O Loia (’24) secured a win by fall over her opponent from Silver Creek High School, gaining seven points for Saint Francis. On both ends, the grind never stops, and as the winter season comes to a close, the wrestlers reflect on their stellar performances throughout the season. 

The athletes expressed that the joys of the sport extend beyond the wins and trophies. Krithi Sagayaraj (’25) mentions, “Watching the program grow so much in a positive way was a huge part of the season,” adding, “the number of new girls who joined and stuck with it was a pretty big highlight.” The Girls’ Wrestling team is a fairly new addition to the Athletic Department. Nevertheless, they exude a pride for their sport that fills the gym with school spirit. Junior Eilish Maung stated, “I’m very happy to be a part of this team,” crediting much of its success to the support of the coaches and other teammates. 

In previous years, the Girls’ team was a joint program with the Boys’. Only starting this winter did they officially separate and take on additional coaching staff. All in all, this season was the debut of something special. With a unique identity and growing interest among students, Saint Francis has a new legacy that will persist beyond this single season. Sagayaraj notes how the team “put[s] in a lot of work…[and] the ‘elite’ program has extremely good coaches that are willing to stay with people after practice to individually help them out.” It truly is a team effort. 

On the Boys’ end, Joseph Paul Payer (’24) mentioned “traveling to Temecula and Morro Bay with the team” as highlights of his season, though he expressed that the team needs to work on “staying focused when in serious times.” The team surely managed to stay focused throughout both tournaments, as they had several key wins in both. Matthew Heydari (’23) added that “winning WCAL league champ[ion]” was the highlight of his season and went on to thank his coaches and teammates for always supporting him. When asked about his mindset going into the season, the senior said, “This was my last chance to make my name known and get to wrestle.” Without a doubt, he did not waste a single moment of his season. 

As the seniors head to college and juniors take their place as leaders in the wrestling program, the community of Saint Francis wrestlers continues to grow. Boys and girls alike made history, newcomers found joy in the sport, and campus zeal for wrestling matches spiked. As a final comment Heydari called wrestling a “great sport and experience,” adding that “everyone should consider giving it a try themselves.” 

Categories: Sports, Uncategorized

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