Mike Senseney passed away unexpectedly at the age of 50 on Aug. 29.
Senseney coached wrestling in Ceres for 17 seasons, including eight at Central Valley High School. He also coached with the Ceres Hawks Wrestling Club and at Blaker-Kinser Jr. High for seven and two years, respectively.
“I’m incredibly saddened by the news,” said Rob Beckhart, a wrestling colleague and friend. “It’s like losing a family member. He loved our kids like they were his own. We’re trying to reach out to his family and help as a wrestling community.”
“He’s always going to be a part of the Central Valley High School program,” he added. “We talked to the school and we’re going to start a Mike Senseney Scholarship. It’s important we recognize him.”
Senseney was an assistant coach for seven seasons (2009-17) on Beckhart’s staff at Central Valley.
“He was super loyal. He did whatever I asked him to do and never complained. He worked at nights so he could be at practice more. He’d open the wrestling room early and stay late. He was always there for the team. He loved our sport. He loved the kids.”Rob Beckhart on Mike Senseney
“He was super loyal,” Beckhart said. “He did whatever I asked him to do and never complained. He worked at nights so he could be at practice more. He’d open the wrestling room early and stay late. He was always there for the team. He loved our sport. He loved the kids.”
Cristian Garcia, a 2014 Central Valley grad, wrestled four seasons for Senseney.
“He was more than just a coach,” Garcia said. “He was a great mentor. He was like a dad. He was always there for you and pushed you to do better. He taught you to never quit no matter what was thrown at you. His legacy will stick with me forever.”
Central Valley accomplished several firsts as a team during the 2015-16 campaign, including winning titles at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV Championships and Team Duals. The Hawks claimed their second straight Western Athletic Conference overall championship. Central Valley also extended its unbeaten streak against conference-dual competition to 18 matches.
Central Valley’s 2014-15 team had an 11-3 record versus dual competition, including a perfect 6-0 mark against conference opponents. Runners-up at Team Sections for the second year in a row, the Hawks made history by winning their first-ever WAC overall title.
The Hawks won all six of their league duals in 2013-14.
Central Valley fell short in its quest of capturing a fourth consecutive WAC dual-meet crown in 2016-17. The Hawks still managed to take second at Divisionals and league finals despite competing with a revamped roster.
“He was a huge part of our program,” Beckhart said. “He took the lead on developing younger kids. There were times when kids didn’t show up to practice and Mike would go to their house to pick them up.”
Senseney stopped coaching at Central Valley for health reasons.
He suffered multiple strokes following the 2014-15 season.
“He always knew the door was open if he wanted to come back,” Beckhart said. “There’s always regret. I wish I would have reached out to him more. Nobody knew this would happen. We lost a great guy. I feel for his family.”
Senseney leaves behind his wife Lisa; two children, Michael and Brandon; four sisters, Angel Vannostrand, Janine Westfall, Samantha Ford and Vicky Shaw; and one brother, Anthony Raya.
Mike and Lisa were married for 26 years.
“We set up a meal train for his family,” Beckhart said. “Somebody has been dropping off food every night. We also set up a GoFundMe site to help out with the funeral costs.”
A 1989 graduate of Downey High School, Senseney played both baseball and football at the prep level. He started working at Stiles Custom Metals as a production worker that same year and worked his way up to night supervisor.
A Celebration of Life will be will be held at 11 a.m. on Sept. 12 at a private residence in Modesto (2819 W. Grayson Road) for Senseney.
All attendees will be required to wear face masks and practice social distancing.
Please RSVP to Beckhart at (209) 602-2077.
“I’ll be there,” Garcia said.