SONORA OPENS WRESTLING SEASON

December 04, 2002 12:00 am

Sonora High School's green-and-gold colors could be modified to just green for the Wildcat wrestling team, which has a raft of inexperienced competitors looking to make their mark at the varsity level.

"We're really, really young," coach Jon Abernathy said. "We have a great freshman class and a good sophomore class, but we only have four juniors and four seniors."

Abernathy has 15 frosh and eight sophs, and some of them got broken in the hard way in a season-opening 53-22 loss to Bret Harte on Tuesday night in Angels Camp.

"Bret Harte has a really good team, but not as good as Calaveras, who we wrestle tonight," Abernathy said.

Match time is 6 p.m. in Sonora's home opener at Bud Castle Gym.

While the bulk of his team is underclassmen, Abernathy has three high-quality seniors in 140-pounder Andrew Ramirez, 152-pounder Joel DePaoli and 160-pounder Jex Baldwin, all of whom have designs on the Sac-Joaquin Section Tournament and even beyond to the State Tournament.

"We have to gear our practices to them, but we also have to gear our practices to teaching the young guys, to building their confidence," Abernathy said. "It helps that our seniors are great leaders. They're pushing the young guys and showing them what it takes to be good."

Ramirez didn't wrestle against Bret Harte because of a skin condition, but DePaoli and Baldwin both opened with victories — DePaoli 11-3 over Jerryd Middleton and Baldwin 13-6 over Ian Fuller.

Also winning for Sonora were Gabe Prieto, 17-3 over Joey Storey at 103; Rory Anderson; 18-4 over Gavin Brummund at 171; and freshman Andrew Blume, by pin at 2:58 over Marcus Porrevecchio at 215.

Blume is perhaps Sonora's most promising newcomer, having finished eighth in a national tournament and fifth in a regional tournament in the freestyle ranks.

"He has some credentials," Abernathy said.