A high school quad area is often a place for students to socialize during free time or catch up on homework before class.
The Jesse Bethel High quad will also be remembered as the location of the first and last home game of the bizarre 2021 school year – the Foundation Cup duel against Justin-Siena.
The Jaguars won three of eight games on Friday, getting their feet wet for the Tri-County Athletic League tournament next weekend.
“It’s hard to start a game because of COVID,” Jaguars head coach John Jackson said. “Parents are also worried about the safety of children. We appreciate the parents who let their children go out today. ”
Bethel had been practicing for about a month and a half, Jackson said.
The game got off to a good start for Bethel as sophomore Dylan Deleon pinned Justin-Siena’s Joseph Rasler at 106 pounds.
“(My strategy was) to work hard, to try hard,” said Deleon. “From practice, we try to put this work into practice. Quite simply, without giving up.”
Deleon said the wrestling was very different outside rather than within the confines of a gym.
“You go for a teardown and you look up and there’s the sun in your eyes,” Deleon laughs. “It’s bad enough.”
The Braves are coached by Jason Guiducci, the longtime head coach of Springstowne Wrestling Academy, the nationally recognized Vallejo college program. Guiducci knew almost all of the Bethel wrestlers.
“Out of the eight-man roster, seven were Springstowne wrestlers,” Guiducci said. “It was great to see them work with coach John Jackson again. John fought for me back then… in 2006. He went to Hogan and did great things and it’s special to see a kid that I coached giving back to this community. He’s a great young man and we’re lucky to have him here in Vallejo.
Justin-Siena has won wins at 113, 120, 126, 132 and 138 pounds.
Bethel, however, finished the game strong with junior Ashton Balassu securing a 195-pound pin over Isaac Dominguez. The Jaguars went on to win their 124-pound sophomore wrestler Crystal Fraire Arroyo over Sophia Conley.
“We have expectations for her and we are working with her,” Jackson said. “I saw some things we need to work on, but she looked good.”
Jackson said all of his wrestlers are subclasses so it’s a great experience for next winter. Even some of the losses at Bethel were three-round competitive matches.
“I am happy to see that some of the matches were played in three rounds,” said Jackson. “There are still a lot of things we need to work on. We’re coming back as league co-defenders with Vallejo, so we want to make sure we’re fine and ready for next season.
Guiducci said the Foundation Cup event typically involved four schools, but due to COVID-19, they’ve limited it to two teams this season. The event helps raise funds for college wrestlers.
“We wanted to keep him alive and this seems like the only opportunity for these children of Bethel so far,” he said. Coach (Jackson) and I worked together to make it happen. We wanted them to fight on this brand new mat.