Preview: Wrestling season to start with lofty goals

Allison Cowie, Author

Sophomore James Giaccia and senior Trenton Marshall wrestle during practice. “The team looks good this year and we’re ready to dominate in league and throughout California,” Marshall said. Both Giaccia and Marshall are expected to make an impact this season, according to head coach David Duran. Photo by Allison Cowie.

After placing fourth in the Central Coast Section and sending three wrestlers to the California Interscholastic Federation state meet during the 2011-2012 season, the Palo Alto High School wrestling team has been hitting the mats for the past two months in preparation for its season opener this weekend.

Although two of the state meet wrestlers, Kalen Gans and Nick Ortiz, graduated last year, junior Andrew Frick, who also wrestled his way into the state meet, returns for the Vikings.

According to head coach David Duran, many upperclassmen, including seniors Trenton Marshall and Erik Anderson, will provide the spark that should take the team toward the top of its section.

“We do have three guys that can win the section: Trenton, Erik and Frick,” Duran said. “If they wrestle well, and they place and they can get in the finals, I’d say that we can finish in the top four in league. … We’ve had some other guys step up [as well]. [Junior] Jordan Gans, Kalen’s younger brother, [whom] we expect… to score for us; [also] Alex Taussig, Gary Hohbach, James Giaccia, and then Jordan Smith. … We can do pretty well again.”

The team expects to place highly this season and build on the program’s success, with goals far beyond placing in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League.

“As a team we want to win [the] SCVAL and CCS,” Marshall said. “Personally I want to win CCS and place in the state tournament.”

The younger Gans agreed, but acknowledged the challenges lying ahead for the inexperienced team.

“Our goals for this season is to go as far as possible as a team,” Gans said. “It would be great to win SCVALs and CCS, but we have a young team, so we will see how that plays out.”

Gans is ready for the opportunity to take on a bigger role for the team this season.

“We have a fairly inexperienced team, so I just want to be a role model to the younger kids,” Gans said. “I want to be able to show people how to work and drill, and help them push themselves as hard as they can.”

According to Duran, captains have not yet been determined, although a few wrestlers have taken on leadership roles.

“Gary Hohbach has stepped up to fill the role of team-leader,” Gans said. “We had a lot of key seniors that graduated last year, so we are trying to find somebody to fill their shoes and Gary is doing a great job.”

“Gary Hohbach and Alex Taussig are doing a good job keeping everybody on task,” Marshall added.

The Vikings open their season with a tournament at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at San Benito High School. Their first home meet will be at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20, against Los Altos High School.