Pitman High wrestling head coach Adam Vasconcellos is heading into his 10th season with the Pride, and despite building a state power over the last decade, he seems confident that the best is yet to come with how the program has been developing lately with a multitude of talented wrestlers.
Multiple state qualifiers, state medalists and section qualifiers has become somewhat of the norm for the Pride over the last half decade and a big reason is the amount of encouragement that the coaches give each and every wrestler.
“Every kid that comes in we coach them the best we can. Everyone wants to coach the best kids, but that is what is different about our coaches, we coach every kid that walks in here. That is what made our JV team successful, having won the JV league championship three years in a row now and it is because we take care of every kid. Every kid means something to us.”
The Pride qualified a career-high five total wrestlers to state, while two medaled.
Pitman also welcomes back a herd of standouts, including three qualifiers and two medalists in Isaiah Perez (220) and Izzy Tubera (113). The third qualifying returner is Brendan Tallent (197), who was also an all-league selection for football in the Central California Conference this fall.
Tubera medaled after placing seventh. Perez finished in fourth place in the 170-pound class just a year ago at state.
“Isaiah wants to be our first ever state champion this year,” said Vasconcellos. “Never had one in school history, so he leads by example every day in the wrestling room and next thing you know Tallent is trying to medal and Izzy is trying to get in the state finals, and all our other guys are trying to get to the state tournament.”
The Pride also welcome back masters qualifiers Jesus Padilla (182) and Kendall La Rosa (152) to the squad.
Despite being loaded with depth and talent, coach Vasconcellos knows that the ultimate goal is not just to win league, it is much more than that.
“It's hard if you look ahead you stop improving. If you get too far ahead of yourself. Honestly, we take it one week at a time, we look at our dual that week,” said Vasconcellos. “We look at our tournament that week, write notes down, then we fix it and fix it and take it as it goes.”
The Pride are also heading into their final season in the CCC, and despite being the heavy favorites to repeat as champions, coach Vasconcellos and his squad have set higher goals than just a league title.
“Honestly, if we win a league championship here and there, that is not the end of it all,” said Vasconcellos. “We want state champions, state medalists, state qualifiers, those are a lot of the kids that take care of their grades and move on to college and that is what we want. That is the other thing that is making our program boom right now is the last few years we’ve been sending kids to college.”
Most recent Pride wrestlers who went on to college are Adam Velasquez (Cal Baptist) and Joseph La Rosa (Cal Poly SLO).
“Our kids are wrestling in college and getting education taken care of and that is what it's all about,” he added. “We just have our kids getting their college paid for and at the end of the day that is what lasts, the kids going on. We want to make sure our kids will be successful people later, that is what we are trying to preach to these guys.”
Pitman will open up league with a dual meet against Merced at 6 p.m. Wednesday.