The Hilmar High wrestling team is coming off a year where they tied for second in the Trans Valley League, however, barely missed a postseason berth after coming two points shy.
This year, after graduating two wrestlers who made it to sections, the ‘Jackets are back on the mat with a large number of sophomore returners and the help of only three seniors.
“This year I would say we are young again, I have got about three seniors total, but the rest are all sophomores and only some juniors,” said Hilmar head coach Bruce Scott. “Last year was exciting, I did not think we could do as well in league so I was really pleased we did so well.”
Sophomores Cody Rentfro, Shane Desalles and Wyatt Amaral are all returning after a very competitive first year at the varsity level.
As of now, the varsity squad is looking like it will have about nine sophomores starting for coach Scott.
It will be a cutthroat season to say the very least for the ‘Jackets who have scheduled a more than challenging preseason schedule.
“We have a pretty tough preseason, we have both Ceres and Central Valley and Patterson on the schedule,” said Scott. “Those three schools whooped us pretty good last year but this year it should be tighter.”
To make things even tougher, the TVL is not looking like it will be an easy league to take, especially after Ripon and Hughson return a majority of their wrestlers from last year.
“I don’t think we have the firepower to be first this season, since Hughson looks to be the strong guns but it might be hard to get second also, but I know we will show up,” Scott said. “This year we should be able to do the same thing again and finish as high.”
A plus for this year's Yellowjacket squad is numbers.
“We have more kids on the team this year. Eventually we will have every spot filled,” Scott said. “The hardest part is right around 160, we have guys either above that or below that and I'm not sure if I will be able to get somebody at that weight class so it will be the only class we may not fill.”
Senior Tommy Dias will be one of those helping out the team this year, competing at the 119 pound weight class.
Rentfro will be challenged at the 170, while Desalles should be between the 132-136-pound range.
Amaral, who was third in league last year, will be returning at the 138 class while junior Freddy Delgadilo should be competing at the 145 level.
“I like the attitude of this team, even though they are young, they seem to be learning quickly,” Scott said. “It will take a little while to adjust, but I strongly believe by the end of the year we will be able to compete. But for now, it will take time but they showed that they want to work.”
Hilmar’s first dual meet will be against Ceres High at 7p.m. Tuesday.