Rocklin wrestling to challenge for SFL title

Thunder on the mats
By: Jim Linsdau, Sports Editor
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The Sierra Foothill League wrestling campaign has long been dominated by Del Oro and challenged by Granite Bay, but Rocklin’s head coach feels this could be the year the Thunder helps change that trend.

Still, coach Torrean Tyus, who is a former Woodcreek High wrestler and State qualifier, knows it’s going to be hard work instilling in his athletes the confidence evident in a program like the Golden Eagles.’ Tyus said Del Oro was not only league champions last year but has won the title four of the last five years.

“I think, as a team we’re going to be extremely competitive,” said Tyus prior to a Thunder practice. “(But) it is working with the team and getting them to believe in themselves … . Because wrestling is a mentally taxing sport and if you don’t believe in yourself you’re not going to be successful in it.”

However, Rocklin has some strong returning lettermen. Seniors Sam Woods and Kaige Miller move over from football, as does junior Skyler Gonzales. Gonzales and Woods made a good run to make the State Championships last year.

Woods and Gonzales were 2-2 in Masters. Woods lost out to Atwood’s Danny Ochoa, who finished fourth in the competition. Woods was also named Lineman of the Year in Sierra Foothill League football this season.

Tyus said Andrew Tyson, a Masters qualifier last year, and Olivia Seppinni should have a good season as well. In fact, Seppinni has set her sights on a State title this season. She was third in her division last year.

Also qualifying for Masters was freshman Michael Cole at 106 pounds.

“Normally, we have a lot of gaps; that won’t be the case this year. We have a pretty set roster. And I want to say, half are returning Masters qualifiers.”

Coach Tyus said the SFL will again be strong and to prepare for that the Thunder preseason goes up against some of the area’s best. Rocklin will open at the Vacaville tournament. Tyus said Vacaville is a powerhouse in wrestling and will feature some very strong competition.

The Bulldogs placed in the top seven in nine of the 14 weight divisions at Masters in 2011-12.

“You’re talking about the cream of the crop that come into one tournament to wrestle,” said Tyus. “(It’s) a showcase of State; a preview of State.”

Tyus said another difficult part of wrestling is dealing with injuries and trying to get up for each match. He said his wrestlers are always amused when professional athletes ride the bench when injured, whereas in wrestling it’s either go forward or step aside.

Tyus said the squad is changing its motto from “We are one,” to “How bad do you want it; how bad do you want to be successful?”

The coach’s analogy as to what it takes to win in wrestling is like the effort to keep from drowning. He said wanting to win a match has to be as strong as to how badly one wants to swim to the surface for a breath of air.

For that reason, Tyus said his wrestlers are pushed to the brink when they feel it’s time to quit. He said that not only prepares them for success on the mat but in life as well.

“We’re ready to accept the challenge and we’re going to step up and have our teams ready to go hard this year because we’re Rocklin and we’re back,” Tyus said. “We’re going to be doing some damage this year.”