Pinning down top honors | January 25, 2019 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - January 25, 2019

Pinning down top honors

Pakly boys, M-A girls are dreaming large

by Rick Eymer

The Palo Alto boys wrestling team heads into Saturday's Mission San Jose Invitational with plenty of confidence. Dara Heydarpour, one of several Vikings who have turned in impressive performances, is more confident than ever that the Vikings have a good chance at winning a league title.

"I think we can be one of the top three teams in the Central Coast Section," Heydarpour said after host Palo Alto beat Gunn, 47-25, on Tuesday night. "We've had some injuries but now everybody is coming back. Even without some guys, we have been able to beat opponents."

Palo Alto placed 15th in last year's CCS tournament, finishing behind three other SCVAL teams.

On the girls' side, two-time defending Central Coast Section champion Menlo-Atherton reigns supreme over the local scene, though both Paly and Gunn have talented wrestlers capable of reaching the state meet.

The Lady Baler Bash at San Benito High on Saturday is another opportunity for them to hone their skills.

In addition to Heydarpour, Andrew Wang and Charlie Williams are among the top wrestlers in their respective divisions.

Wang, who won his match against Gunn, 20-6, is a former league champion and placed second in last year's CCS tournament at 126 pounds.

"We've improved a lot from last year," Heydarpour said. "When I was a freshman, we were in the El Camino Division and I think we finished sixth. Now we're back in the De Anza Division and were fourth last year. I think we can win the league tournament."

There are several reasons for Heydarpour's optimism, not the least being his own success this season.

"There are some matches I should have won that came down to the wire," he said. "There's really only been one guy who was better than me. In all other matches, I've been right there."

Gunn's Timothy Waymouth beat Halo Lynch, 10-2, in an entertaining match at 145 pounds. Waymouth, who has won a tournament title this season, placed seventh at last year's CCS meet.

Menlo-Atherton's Joshua Meyers is another wrestler to watch at the CCS tournament.

Girls wrestling

Menlo-Atherton senior Fola Akinola went 3-0, including two pins, to win her division of the Lady Jaguar Girls Wrestling Tournament in Vallejo on Saturday.

Akinola, ranked first in the Central Coast Section and seventh nationally, helped the Bears finish seventh out of 41 schools. Senior team captain Lauren McDonnell is ranked first in the section and 17th nationally in her division.

Angie Bautista, ranked second in the CCS, and Paola Ramirez, ranked fifth, each reached the championship match at Jesse Betchel High before falling. Bautista won four of five bouts, three by pin, and Ramirez went 3-1, with a pair of pins.

Anna Smith, Evelyn Calhoon and Abby Ericson are also ranked first in the section. Lauren Fuller is ranked No. 12.

Palo Alto's Ashley Wang (no relation to Andrew) is a prime candidate to qualify for the state meet. She's had a successful tournament season to date and is ranked second to Calhoon in the CCS.

Zoe Wong-Van Halen, ranked seventh in the CCS, placed fifth in the 111 division of the Ladies Coast Classic at Santa Cruz High on Saturday and then had a competitive match against Gunn in losing to a boy, 14-11.

Gunn's Kayla Lin ranks third in the CCS and has turned out to be a versatile athlete, having served as the goalie for the Titans' successful water polo team in the fall.


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