Columbia Middle wrestlers finished off a big season this winter with four students placing in Sectional finals and one student making it to County finals.
The post season tournaments for middle school wrestling were put on by the Valley Junior High School Athletic League this year. Competitions begin with League finals, then progress to Sectionals, then finish with County finals. Wrestlers must qualify to move on to each round.
CMS had a very strong sixth-grade showing, which local wrestling coach Daniel McCune attributes to the efforts of the Sunnyvale Youth Wrestling League (SYWL).
SYWL was co-founded by the Sunnyvale School District alumnus in 2015. He believes the co-curricular program complements classroom curriculum to educate the whole student, providing opportunities for students to learn important life skills like resilience, discipline, work ethic, overcoming adversity, and grit.
In partnership with the Sunnyvale Wrestling Club, SYWL provides a co-ed, 6-week program free of cost to third, fourth, and fifth graders at Lakewood, San Miguel, Ellis, Vargas, and Bishop Elementary Schools.
“I look forward to seeing how this progresses,” McCune said. “Coaches Ernesto Ancona, Cristian Arriaga, and Edward Garcia have been doing a good job with the team and are currently working with Sunnyvale Wrestling Club getting kids ready for the NorCal TOC Tournament in March.”
CMS eighth-grader Branden Bulatao finished first in League finals, first in Sectionals, and second in County. He attributed his successful season to the people who care about him and motivate him: his coaches, parents, friends, and teammates.
“Without them, I wouldn’t have made it this far,” Branden said. “I was especially proud to go to County and represent Columbia.”
Eighth-grader Devan Lomori finished third place in Leagues, which made him eligible for Sectionals.
“I was proud just to get to Sectionals,” Devan said. “I just wanted to get better and try my best at Leagues and at Sectionals. Wrestling teaches you how to get up and if you lose, it’s not over.”
Sixth-grader Sean Sok finished fourth in League, which made him eligible to compete in Sectionals.
“The coaches were very strict but that’s what made me better,” Sean said. “They always cheered me on whenever I did my matches. They always made me feel happy, even when I lost.”
Justin Ramirez, sixth grade finished first in League finals and third in Sectionals.
“I wanted to be the first non-eighth grader to have his name on the wrestling banner so that was exciting to do that,” Ramirez said. “My other goal is to get it at least twice.”