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Underclassmen needed to help Sterling rise above

No sophomore slumping

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013 8:49 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013 8:50 p.m. CDT
(Philip Marruffo/pmarruffo@saukvalley.com)
Sterling's Andrew Garcia (on top) wrestles Ottawa's Michael Ortiz during a match last season. Garcia will be one of the sophomores that the Warriors depend on to help lead the team this season.

Help wanted.

State place winner Isaac Anderson and sectional qualifiers Will Canales, Zack Depuy, Bryant Lilly and Jaden Urrutia figure to be the heart of the Sterling wrestling team. But, they will need help if the Golden Warriors are to reach their goals.

That help may come from youngsters like sophomores Andrew Garcia and Ivan Mendoza.

Garcia's last name was Ingram until he was recently adopted. He had a solid freshman season at the varsity level, going 15-10 despite wrestling at 152 pounds, a tough weight for a freshman.

"I was really nervous going into it," Garcia said. "I was surprised there was no one in my weight class. I just stepped up and I had to accept that I was varsity now. Coming into the season I was confident in myself, but at the first practice I thought maybe I needed a little more experience."

Garcia was a very pleasant surprise for sixth-year head coach Charlie Bishop.

"It didn't matter who he wrestled, he was going to go 110 percent," Bishop said. "He would win matches he wasn't supposed to win."

One of those wins stood out above the rest.

"He was wrestling a kid from Freeport who was ranked 10th in the state," Bishop said. "He didn't care that kid was ranked 10th in the state. He was losing, but kept wrestling hard and kept wrestling hard, and eventually he got him on his back and stuck him.

"He saw him again at regionals, and he stuck him again. He's like that Energizer bunny. He never stops moving."

Garcia, who is dropping down to 145 pounds, surprised himself with his success as a freshman, typically taking on more experienced wrestlers.

"They were a lot stronger than me, but I tend to catch on fast up in the practice room," Garcia said. "I feel like I out-techniqued most of them. I was happy with my season. I was expecting to lose most of my matches, just because I was a freshman."

Mendoza, who saw limited action at the varsity level last season, is still a relative newcomer to the sport.

"This is my fourth year in wrestling," he said. "Seventh grade was my first year. I'm starting to get the hang of it now."

He's seemingly had the hang of it for quite some time, advancing to state as a seventh grader.

"I've been hooked on it ever since," said Mendoza, who tried to get to 106 pounds this season, but will be back at 113. "It's been my favorite sport since."

Bishop likes what he sees in Mendoza, even if it is a bit unpolished.

"He has a lot of natural talent," Bishop said. "He's very quick. He goes 100 mph. He's come a long way in a very short time. The rawness is there, but I like the rawness."

Bishop anticipates his lineup will have some 2-3 freshmen, several sophomores, 3-4 juniors and 3-4 seniors. Youth and a tough schedule may make for some tough sledding early.

"We may take some lumps at the beginning, but adversity will make us stronger," Bishop said. "By the end of the season, you'll see a great lineup."

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