PD Preps Insider: Wrestlers shake off jitters at CIF wrestling championships

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The elite level of competition is just one factor that makes the CIF state wrestling championships so daunting. Another is the white-hot glare of wrestling in a 15,000-seat arena.

“You can describe it to the kids, you can prepare ’em, you can get ’em ready,” Windsor coach Rich Carnation said. “You can do everything except for having them go through the experience.”

Carnation cited his 120-pound junior Noah Au-Yeung, who lost his first match decisively and fell to the consolation brackets. But he had shaken his jitters and won his next two matches including one, as described by Carnation, against “the kid from Clovis (Julian Guytan) who’s like one of the top kids in the state.”

Of the 10 Redwood Empire wrestlers who competed in Bakersfield at the state championships, two were juniors — Au-Yeung and Lower Lake heavyweight William Isaacs — who will have a chance to return with experience.

Still a foursome

Cardinal Newman’s P.J. Klee wrestled for the state championship at 152 pounds but came up short, losing 3-1 to Paul Fox of Gilroy. That means the short list of state-champion wrestlers from the Redwood Empire still has four entries: Rancho Cotate’s Joe Guinn (heavyweight in 1979), Piner’s John Noland (165 pounds in 1980), Ukiah’s Brett Colombini (175 pounds in 1990) and Healdsburg’s Andrew Rogers (145 pounds in 2006).

Quick switch for Krist

It takes most high school athletes several weeks to transition from one sport to another. Not Petaluma’s Joelle Krist. She made the switch in five days and did it in a big way.

On Feb. 28, she scored 20 points in a season-ending NCS tournament loss to Campolindo.

Then on March 4, after one day of softball practice, she donned her new uniform and promptly hit three home runs in a win at Montgomery. She had seven RBIs in the game.

El Momentum

El Molino has opened the prep baseball season with four wins under new coach Tony Franceschi.

The Lions junior varsity coach the past two seasons, Franceschi said El Molino aims to compete with the Sonoma County League’s best and return to the North Coast Section playoffs. El Molino is an NCS Division 4 school in a league made up mostly of NCS Division 3 schools.

El Molino returns five starters and has a deep pitching staff. The Lions also are bolstered by players off last season’s strong junior varsity team that finished third in the SCL.

Franceschi, a 1987 El Molino graduate, is the fourth varsity coach in the past decade, but plans to stick around as long as the players are having fun and enjoying success.

Phil Barber, Michael Coit and Howard Senzell contributed to this report.

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