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Ceres Pups Wrestling Club enjoys memorable year
The Ceres Pups Wrestling Club had four grapplers compete at the California USA Kids Freestyle/Greco State Championships this past month in Fresno. Pictured left to right: coach Derek Young and his son Jeremiah, head coach Casey Paulino with Tanner Brister and founder Steve Festa with twin brothers Calen and McCoy Adams. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

The Ceres Pups Wrestling Club enjoyed its best season to date this year.

"We've been getting a lot of positive comments from people," said Steve Festa, program founder. "It's exciting. We take a lot of pride in what we're doing."

Ceres had three grapplers place at the California USA Wrestling Kids Freestyle/Greco State Championships on June 3 at Selland Arena in Fresno.

"We met before the season and set goals," Festa said. "That was one of them. It's the first time our club has had state placers. They implemented what we told them to do. It was awesome. We want to put our kids in those environments so they're used to them when they're older."

Twin seven-year-old brothers Calen and McCoy Adams placed fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Intermediate Boys 50-pound weight class.

Calen and McCoy compiled identical 2-2 records.

"They represented themselves and our club in a high way," Festa said. "They both stepped up. When I watch them wrestle and win, it gives me goosebumps. I really hope they stick with wrestling. They're going to be studs. They have a great future ahead of them."

Calen earned the right to wrestle for third place after posting a 10-5 victory over McCoy.

"Calen beat McCoy in a close match," Festa said.

Eight-year-old Tanner Brister placed seventh with a 1-2 record in the Bantam 70-pound weight class.

"He was competing," Festa said. "He was being aggressive. He showed a lot of courage. He did great."

Seven-year-old Jeremy Young compiled a 1-2 record in the Bantam 65-pound weight class.

Jesse Walls and Trae Hammonds both qualified for state but did not participate for different reasons.

Hammonds, 12, had another commitment.

Walls, 5, couldn't compete because of his young age.

Calen, McCoy, Tanner, Jesse and Trae all placed first at the San Joaquin Wrestling Association Championships on May 20 at Turlock High School.

Ceres won the team title at the Sacramento Area Wrestling Association Club Championships on April 8 in Folsom.

Calen, McCoy, Tanner and Jesse are first-year grapplers.

"They're gaining experience," Festa said. "That's what it's all about. They practiced three days a week, two hours a day. They challenged themselves. That allowed them to be prepared."

Festa founded the Ceres Pups Wrestling Club in 2015.
The Pups had 34 members, aged 5-13, on their roster this year.

Ceres has six coaches, including Casey Paulino (head), Derek Young (assistant head), Tony Ormonde (assistant) and Adam Borges (assistant).

"We have at least 60 years of experience," said Festa, who was promoted to head coach of Ceres High's varsity wrestling program in 2013 following seven seasons as an assistant.