Valencia High wrestling coach Brian Peterson thinks in the past, present and future at the same time.
“We knew that this year was going to be better than last year and last year was better than the year before. And next year will be even better than this year,” Peterson said. “Our first big graduating class will be next year. I’m thinking long term, can I keep the team as strong?”
The answer to that question appears to be yes.
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The defending Tri-Valley League champions have won both league duals so far, but continue to grow in tournaments.
The Vikings, who are in their third year as a team, placed fourth at the Newbury Park Invitational, first at Golden Legends Tournament, fourth at Downey Duals and seventh in the Juan Enriquez Memorial Tournament. They also were ranked 18th out of 68 teams at the Cerritos Tournament of Champions.
“We don’t go to tournaments that we could do well at,” said Peterson. “We’re not going out there to feed our egos. We’re going to tough tournaments, we’re trying to battle with the best in the Southern Section and even out of our section.”
Leading the Vikes is Chance Rich, a junior who reached the CIF state tournament last year, has returned as a physically stronger wrestler.
“He’s improved a lot since last year because he’s matured,” said Peterson. “What’s happened from last year to this year is he’s developed a muscle level that is different from last year. He was shredded, so he had muscles. But he was still a kid.”
Rich has been wrestling in the 126 weight class, but it’s likely he’ll move to 120.
“I feel like I changed a lot,” Rich said. “I know what the competition is like now. I know what it’s like to be at the top level, and what the intensity is going to be like.
“I feel like last year I was still an underclassman, didn’t know that much, but now I’m the top in the state and I don’t think there’s anyone that can beat me. I think I can go out and beat anybody in my weight class, I just have to wrestle hard.”
He injured his elbow in late December at the Tournament of Champions, but will likely be ready for the mat again by mid-week next week.
Junior Israel Galvan, who competes at 113 pounds, is making an impact as a true first-year
wrestler. He’s already won one tournament and took second place in two other tournaments.
“You do not see first-year wrestlers placing, going to the finals of tough varsity tournaments. It just doesn’t happen,” Peterson said. “He’s super agile and athletic. He’s explosive, he’s strong. He smiles all the time, but when he’s wrestling he wants to beat someone down. He doesn’t want to go easy on anybody.”
Ben Gould, a sophomore returner at 170, has performed well in tournaments, earning one first place, two second place and one third place victories. DerrickTop (152) and Nick Lopez (160) are also “studs that we can count on to win matches,” according to Peterson.
Valencia is prepared to march confidently to another league title as a team, and has individuals that won’t stop there.
“(We) know what they’re doing now, it’s our third year in, everyone is focused, everyone wants to go out there and win,” Rich said. “We help each other and support each other the best we can, and we all just really want it.”