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CHS leading by example

Juniors Curtis Hulstine and Keegan Overbey take a great deal of pride in being co-captains of Ceres High's varsity wrestling program.

"It feels good knowing that they picked me to be their leader," Hulstine said. "It makes me want to wrestle harder. It gives me confidence. They believe in me."

"I saw Zach Van Wagoner and Tony Chavez working their butts off during my freshman year," Overbey said. "It was motivation. I wanted to be a captain like them. I was so happy when I got it. My hard work paid off."

"We let the team vote," Bulldogs head coach Jon Nowicki said. "It was pretty overwhelming. It's obvious why they were chosen. They're both great wrestlers and natural leaders."

Hulstine had a productive sophomore campaign in 2007-08.

Curtis qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Wrestling Tournament, placed fifth at the Division IV Championships and took fourth at the Valley Oak League Meet while competing at 112 pounds.

"He's one of the quickest wrestlers I've ever seen," Nowicki said. "He's got a great shot. He's strong. He's a beast. We're looking to do some damage this year."

Asked what he hoped to accomplish in 2008-09, Hulstine said: "I have the potential to go to state. That's my main goal. But I'd be happy if I advanced to the second day of Masters."

"That's a pretty high goal for him," Nowicki said. "But he could go if he progresses like he did last year."

Hulstine, who will continue to wrestle at 112 pounds, remembers being overwhelmed during the first day of the Masters tournament a season ago.

He lost by major decision (10-1) to McNair's Aaron Ceballos and decision (5-0) to Roseville's Dylan Jankovich in front of a large crowd at the University of the Pacific's Spanos Center.

"The awe of it really got me," Curtis said. "I psyched myself out. I'll be ready for it now."

Overbey admitted he had a disappointing 0-2 showing while competing in the 125-pound division at the Division IV meet as a sophomore.

He lost twice despite leading early.

"I was nervous," said Keegan, who qualified for the tournament after taking fourth at the VOL championships. "I'm getting over it now."

Overbey will compete at 130 pounds this year.

"If he wrestles the way he can, he can definitely go to masters," Nowicki said. "He's a good technician. He's got a lot of moves. He put on some pounds over the summer and he's definitely stronger than last year."

"I want to go to state," Keegan said. "It's something I have to work hard for but I think I can achieve it."

Overbey ran cross country in the fall to improve his conditioning.

"I feel a lot stronger this year," he said. "I'll be able to last longer in matches. I won't die out."

Keegan had a busy summer. He won 18 of his 23 matches.

Overbey represented California-USA Wrestling at the 2008 Accelerade Cadet National Freestyle Wrestling Championships, where he gained valuable experience. Keegan compiled an 0-2 record at 135 pounds.

Overbey placed ninth in a field of 24 with a 2-2 record at the state competition.

He also took first at local events in Modesto, Ripon, Lodi, Livingston, Atwater and Merced.

"I get a lot of joy out of wrestling," Overbey said. "It gives me more confidence."

Added Hulstine: "It feels great to be a part of something. I'm loving the whole experience."

Other Bulldog grapplers expected to contribute this year include Tony Spinella (152/145), Brian Naylor (125/119), Erik Eisenbeis (152/145), Shawn Amirfar (135/130), Andrew Cefre (130/125), Christian Rodriguez (145/140), Matt Vanderlaan (189), Albert Melendez (Hwt.), Hadon Lopez (160/171) and Wesley Schwieger (103).

Spinella went 0-2 at the Masters meet and finished in third place at the VOL competition in the 145-pound class last season.

Naylor and Eisenbeis qualified for the Division IV tournament in 2007-08.

Brian finished 2-2 at 103 pounds.

Erik fell twice at 140 pounds.

They also had success at the league championships.

Naylor took third, while Eisenbeis placed fourth.


Football teammates unite on mat

Victor Tubera, Vince Lopez and Timmy Henley played varsity football together at Central Valley High School during the fall sports season.

They'll remain teammates this winter as members of the Hawks' wrestling program.

Tubera, a senior, has been selected team captain. This will be his fourth varsity season.

He advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters meet, placed fourth at the Division IV tournament and finished runner-up at the Valley Oak League championships while competing in the 140-pound division as a junior.

"I've been staying after practice every day to get better," said Tubera, who will wrestle at 145 pounds in 2008-09. "This is my last year. I got to go all out. I don't want to settle for anything less than state. It would mean the world to me. That's been my goal for all four years."

Playing varsity football for the past two seasons has proven to be very beneficial.

"It's getting me bigger and stronger," Tubera said. "I actually lift weights."

Victor's two older brothers also wrestled in high school.

Mike, a 2008 Central Valley graduate, managed to capture the VOL 121-pound crown, finish third at the Division IV championships and post a 1-2 record at the Masters meet as a senior despite missing a month of training with a left knee injury.

Daniel, a 2007 Ceres High grad, wrestled varsity for two years in the middle weights.

"I know I'll hear stuff if I don't go as far as they did," Victor said. "I want to surpass their accomplishments."

Lopez (152) and Henley (171) are newcomers.

"They're picking up the sport really fast and seem to be having fun," Hawks coach Joe Stewart said. "They're super athletes."

"We're just learning the basics and trying to get into shape right now," Lopez said.

"Everything's fun but it's hard at the same time," Henley said.

Victor recruited Timmy. They've been close friends since the seventh grade.

"He told me to do it (wrestle)," Henley said. "It keeps me out of trouble."

Vince has chosen to follow in the footsteps of his older brother. Jacob, a 2007 Ceres High graduate, wrestled varsity as a senior and junior. A Masters meet qualifier during his final season, Lopez took second at the VOL and Division IV competitions in the 130-pound division as well.

"I'd always go to his tournaments and matches and got interested in it from there," Vince said. "The good thing about it (wrestling) is you can't blame anyone else if you lose."

Victor relishes the opportunity to train with Timmy and Vince despite their inexperience.

"They're better to work out with because they're more competitive," Tubera said. "They have more pride."

"I stay with him (Victor) after practice to learn moves," Henley stated.

"He (Tubera) shows me extra stuff to help me out," Lopez added.

Asked if Central Valley would be more competitive during conference dual meets, Victor said: "We're going to put up a fight because we're not going to have to forfeit any spots. We have a lot of depth."

The Hawks finished in sixth place with a 2-5 record last year. Central Valley edged city-rival Ceres High 37-33 at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.