LeyVa Wrestling had a season to remember
Thursday, December 13, 2018 was the Santa Clara County Middle School Wrestling Championships at Los Gatos High School. Schools from all across the county sent their top wrestlers to battle for the highest honor in middle school wrestling - County Champion.
The journey for LeyVa began back in 2012 when Geoff Wellington joined the LeyVa staff and resurrected the wrestling program after a four-year absence. Mr. Wellington was a high school wrestling coach and had a vision to put the school back on the wrestling map. "Being a coach and creating a positive impact on the lives of young people is why I became a teacher," says Wellington.
To do this, they have to beat the two other teams who have largely dominated the league, section, and county championships for the last two decades; Evergreen's own Quimby Oak and South Valley from Gilroy.
Wrestling is a physically and mentally demanding sport that builds character, self-confidence, community, and the importance of failure and sacrifice in any struggle. Additionally, wrestling is both a team and individual sport with each athlete battling one at a time and the match outcome awarding team points. This year, Coach Wellington and Assistant Coach Matthew Herrera welcomed over fifty 7th and 8th grade wrestlers to the team. Wrestling is a "no cut" sport which means anyone who wants to participate can be on the team, if they do well in school and never quit. Then the team members battle each other for varsity positions in the nineteen different weight classes. The season consists of a series of head-to-head matches with other middle schools and multi-school tournaments.
Wrestling teams in Santa Clara County are organized into a northern and southern sections with then smaller divisions. LeyVa is in the Northern division of the East section with teams from East Side San Jose in nearby Alum Rock, Berryessa, Mt. Pleasant, and in Evergreen, the reigning league champions, Quimby Oak. LeyVa's league record this season was 6-1 with the only loss to Quimby. One match this season was very special because it was only six points shy of a perfect match with LeyVa winning 108 – 0.
In the division league finals tournament, the top eight wrestlers in the league battle for the top four spots to move on to the sectional meet. The Bulldogs won seven individual titles and advanced 16 of the 19 weight classes to the sectional tournament, but the final team scores came down to a seven-point difference with LeyVa again watching Quimby claim the league championship for the 18th straight year.
Then in the section finals tournament, where only the top two wrestlers in each weight advance. LeyVa placed nine on to the podium with eight wrestlers moving on to the county championships. Nevertheless, the team placed third overall once again behind powerhouses Quimby and South Valley.
For those eight wrestlers, the entire season came down to one night at Los Gatos High School with the best wrestlers from across Santa Clara – the County Championship. The matches were exciting and fierce with fates often being decided by just a single point. A record seven Bulldogs made it to the final round. The individual results were amazing:
- Michael Metra (3rd place)
- Willis Tran (2nd place)
- Jesus Chavez (2nd place)
- Adan Hernandez (2nd place)
- Nicolas LeGrande (2nd place)
- Joel Mendivil (1st place)
- Austin Chiu (1st place)
- Quintin McCollum (1st place)
Watching the team scores before going into the finals LeyVa was projected to earn second place. Medals were awarded proudly to individuals and then the teams ranking were shared over the loudspeaker. Fifth place... Fourth... not LeyVa... Third... not LeyVa... Second place... South Valley??? ... wait...And, for the first time in the its 46-year history, George V. LeyVa Middle School was named the Santa Clara County Wrestling Team Champions!
"It wasn't the ranking or the records of other teams, it was on us. We had to go earn it. We worked hard all season, and we deserved it," said Team Captain Jesus.
The County Championship was a personal goal for Coach Wellington, and he and his Bulldog wrestlers pulled it off. "LeyVa is now on the wrestling map, and we plan to stay," said Wellington. We could not be prouder of them all for this historic 2018 season.