The list is full of check marks: beat Buena in a dual meet, check; snap losing streak against Ventura, check; capture Channel League dual meet team title, check; beat two CIF division foes in a three-way meet, check; earn team titles at two tournaments, check.
The Team of the Month Series spotlights great
examples of teamwork in the local sports community
— Presented by Sansum Clinic —
It’s been a terrific season for the Dos Pueblos wrestling team. But there’s still more to accomplish before it ends. Still to be checked off the list of goals is a CIF Duals team title, Channel League individual championships and CIF State Meet qualifying berths.
Presidio Sports is pleased to recognize the Dos Pueblos wrestling team as the Team of the Month.
DP coach Anthony Califano had high expectations for this team, and for good reason. The squad was senior-laden (22 total in the program) and most of the guys were experienced wrestlers.
“That’s the one difference between this team and other good teams I’ve had in the past,” Califano said. “This year, we have a returning wrestler in every weight class — 14 for 14. It’s very rare. That’s one of the reasons why we’re having success. We’re deep; we’re good across the board.”
That quality inspired Califano to put in a bid to host one of the six CIF-SS postseason tournaments. DP will host the CIF-SS Northern Division Duals on Feb. 7. Sixteen teams from eight leagues will compete in a playoff-bracketed format for a team championship.
“I volunteered to host it, knowing and hoping that if everything came together for us we would have a good team. We’re on the right track.”
The Chargers beat non-league opponents Thousand Oaks and Pacifica, two teams in the Northern Division, and they took down league rivals Buena and Ventura handedly.
The 46-12 win over Ventura was especially gratifying. The Chargers hadn’t beaten the Cougars since 2006, the last time they won Channel League title.
“We did it with an exclamation point,” Califano said. “Ventura is a good team. We put together one of the best matches I’ve had as a coach.”
The atmosphere that night at Sovine Gym was electric. The crowd was big and boisterous. Califano made it Alumni Night, and several former DP wrestlers were there to cheer on the team.
Cameron Cox, who is seeking his third straight Channel League individual title, said that night is one of the highlights of his DP career.
“Just going out there, we had everything going our way,” he said. “We beat them so badly.”
The match started off with a bang for DP as Gama Perez rallied from a 4-0 deficit in the third period and pulled out a 6-4 win in overtime.
“That was the best moment,” said Ryan Fidel, DP’s 106-pound sophomore. “When I saw it, I started tearing up. That was so cool. It just boosted our team for the rest of our matches.”
The impact of Perez’s dramatic win demonstrated the team aspect of wrestling.
“There’s totally a team concept,” Califano says. “The win by Gama, that rallied everybody.”
Patrick Konkol, the team’s 195-pounder, notes that if you don’t win a bout, avoiding a pin or a loss by unanimous decision is important to the team points-wise and psychologically. Against Ventura, he lost a one-point decision.
“It was like a victory in itself,” he said. “It’s only three points instead of six (awarded for a pin) or four (unanimous decision).”
Konkol is one of the surprises for Califano.
He had no experience when he went out for the team as a 250-pound sophomore. Two weeks ago, he won the 195-pound weight class at the San Marcos Invitational and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Wrestler in the upper weights.
“Patrick Konkol has been huge,” Califano raves. “We went into the season knowing we had experience at the upper weights, but also knowing they needed some work and confidence and that kind of thing, And he stepped it up.”
Califano said Konkol and Gama Perez both dedicated themselves to the sport.
“One of their strengths is they never miss, they never miss a workout. They’re so dependable,” he said.
PAST TEAMS OF THE MONTH:
“I knew it was going to be difficult, and mental toughness is a big key to it,” Konkol said of the sport. “I didn’t know it would go beyond my expectations.”
He was encouraged to come out for the team by Cox.
“I was in his class sophomore year and I thought it would be pretty fun for him to come into the room and we’d beat him up a little bit,” Cox said with a laugh. “ I didn’t know he’d stick around, and now he’s one of my good buddies. He’s definitely improved a lot. He’s lost 30-40 pounds. He’s just getting better and better. This year he’s making name for himself.”
Konkol said he could have wrestled as a heavyweight or at 220, but decided to cut his weight down to compete at 195.
“I originally joined to get in shape, but now that I’ve gotten in shape I need to start competing and that’s what I’ve been doing this year and last year,” he said.
He appreciates how the sport pushes you physically and mentally. “You can be beat up all practice, but after practice you feel like you got something done.”
Cox, the most decorated wrestler on the squad, is a dynamo on the mat. Califano says he’s among the best he’s had in the program. “He’s making the guys around him better.”
Cox said this team has grown together, which makes it special.
“We kind of all started wrestling freshman year,” he explained. “This is definitely the only team I’ve been on in which we all hang out outside of school. We’re all talking to each other at lunch, we’re hanging out on the weekends together. We’re like best friends. We push each other because we’re always with each other.”
“We’re all pretty tight,” added Jeffy Uyesaka.
The Dos Pueblos wrestling team consists of Ryan Fidel, Jose Murillo, Gama Perez, Josh Murphy, Blair Middleton, Cameron Cox, Jeffy Uyesaka, Jason Hu, Jonathan Coronado, Diego Lopez, Matthew Schmidt, Patrick Konkol, Damien Pennington, Will Fader.