Camarillo grapplers work hard on mat

Boy grappled another boy.
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Coaching doesn’t get old for Ron Wilson.

Wilson is in the midst of his 20th season as head coach of the Camarillo High wrestling team.

“I still enjoy it,” said Wilson, who has coached wrestling for 33 years. “It doesn’t get boring. Every year there’s a new team with new challenges.

“Some coaches would get burnt out by now. Not me, I’m always up for a new challenge.”

This year’s challenge: lack of senior leadership.

The Scorpions aren’t stacked with senior wrestlers, but Wilson’s not worried.

“We have a strong core of juniors,” the coach said. “If they don’t do anything this year, they definitely will next year. The juniors have pushed the other kids on the team. They’re all solid leaders with experience.”

Huerta, who wrestles at 145 pounds, said he improves by training with his fellow juniors.

“They’re great wrestlers,” said Huerta, who began wrestling in seventh grade. “We’re best friends at school, but worst enemies on the mat.

“We try to rip each others’ heads off. That competitiveness pushes us all to work harder.”

Huerta, a team captain, is a defensive grappler that waits for the right angles before attacking.

A junior, Huerta first wrestled for a youth team in Moorpark.

“I pretty much tried every sport before doing wrestling,” Huerta said. “Nothing stuck. The only sport that was for me was wrestling. I liked that it was individual and a physical combat sport.

“I later realized that it was a team sport. Everyone (at Camarillo) works hard. If someone doesn’t put in the same effort, then the whole team suffers.”

Camarillo held its annual 10-way tournament last weekend, finishing third overall.

The Scorpions will next compete at the Las Vegas Holiday Classic High School Wrestling Tournament at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

More than 80 teams across the country will compete in the annual tournament, which starts Fri., Dec. 21.

Abayon, who competes in the 152-pound division, said competing in the national tourney will be nerve-racking, but the Camarillo tournament gave him a taste of what to expect.

“When you first go to a big tournament you get nervous and start panicking,” Abayon said. “After the first match, you calm down and regain your composure.

“Wrestling in the 10-way prepared me for the Vegas tournament. Tournaments are very exhausting. You’re wrestling about five to seven times in a day. That really takes a toll on your body.”

Abayon recently joined the team after playing nose tackle for the Camarillo football team, which advanced to the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Western Division playoffs.

The Scorpion had to lose 20 pounds to make weight for the 145 division last year. This season, he only had to lose four pounds to make 152.

Abayon competes in freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling during the offseason.

Junior April Mondragon placed 10th in the 154-pound division of the California girls’ state finals last year.

When Mondragon joined the Camarillo wrestling team as a freshman, there were only three girls competing. Now the Scorpions feature more than 10 female wrestlers.

“I’m glad to see more girls wrestle,” Mondragon said. “I remember when I first started and how hard it was. Now I get to help them.”

Mondragon is one of the top female wrestlers in the county, but she prefers the challenge of grappling with the boys.

Mondragon’s aunt, Deyvonne, was the first girl to wrestle at Camarillo.

Deyvonne Mondragon wrestles at the University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky.

Angie Lopez and Sabrina Vasquez are also top-notch grapplers for the Scorpions.

Lopez placed seventh at the girls’ state meet last year for the 98-pound weight class. She’s currently sidelined with an injury.

Justin Fontanille and Dallin D’Huart have excelled at the varsity level after making the jump from junior varsity.

Senior Adrian Quiroz is one of the top wrestlers in the county for the 138-pound division.

“This is by far the hardest working team we’ve had since I’ve been at Camarillo,” said Hall, who wrestles at 170. “We’re going to take our bumps and bruises early, but by the end of the year we’ll be a good team.

“There are many good teams in the Pacific View league, but we have a good shot at winning a league title.”

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