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EPISODE #72
CATHOLIC SPORTS VIEW: GUESTS INCLUDE ALAN CLINTON, KEITH WILKINSON & AMANDA SAMAAN

Host Bob Gibson interviews coaches and players throughout the various Catholic high schools in Orange County.

Today’s guests include:

  • Alan Clinton (Servite H.S. Wrestling coach);
  • Keith Wilkinson (boys basketball coach at J Serra H.S.) and
  • Amanda Samaan (Boras Family Foundation & The Boras Classic baseball tournament)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 12/22/18

 

EPISODE #48
CATHOLIC SPORTS VIEW: GUESTS INCLUDE FRANK BURLISON, RYAN LILYENGREN, SEAN GANEY AND ALAN CLINTON

Host Bob Gibson interviews coaches and players throughout the various Catholic high schools in Orange County. We’ve got another jam-packed show for you today.

Our guests include: Frank Burlison (SoCal’s voice of prep basketball); Ryan Lilyengren (Director of Communications for the Diocese of Orange) to talk about the Duck’s Catholic Hockey Night at Honda Center; Sean Ganey (head boys soccer coach at Mater Dei) and Alan Clinton (athletic director and head boys wrestling coach at Servite).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 2/3/18

TRINITY LEAGUE ATHLETE PROFILE: SEAN CARROLL

 

It’s like father, like son, for Sean Carroll and his dad when it comes to sports, as Carroll followed him onto the wrestling mat when he made his sport of choice.

 

 

“My father was a wrestler…so I was exposed to it at a young age,” says Carroll. “I really started taking it seriously when I got into high school.”

The recent Santa Margarita Catholic High School graduate and four-year varsity wrestler in the 152-pound weight class has always valued how the sport pushes him to be both a better competitor and person.

“I enjoy the competitive aspect and how much I can challenge myself,” says Carroll of wrestling. “It’s a sport where hard work really translates to success.”

As a captain for the Eagles, Carroll approached leadership by setting the example for his teammates, in hopes that they would follow suit.

“Sean leads by example on and off the mat through his dedication and strong work ethic,” says Santa Margarita head wrestling coach, Scott Sedlick. “He is never one to make excuses when facing failure and is eager to get back to work, striving for future success. It is these types of attributes that make Sean a tremendous leader and great teammate.”

Carroll and Sedlick share a mutual respect for each other, as the 18-year-old cites his coach as one of his most significant role models, both in wrestling and in life.

“He’s been a great motivator,” says Carroll of Sedlick, “He’s taught me a lot of life lessons off the mat that have been really pivotal to my success.”

As with many elite high school athletes, finding balance between their sports and their studies can pose a challenge, and Carroll admits that juggling everything has been a work in progress.

“I have to convince myself that there is time for everything,” says Carroll, “and I’ll get to it and get it done and move forward.”

Away from the mat, Carroll is a member of National Honor Society (NHS) and participated in the school’s Model UN program. The Dana Point resident has also used his leadership skills at confirmation retreats for the youth at St. Edward the Confessor, a place where Carroll finds similarities to his sport.

“There are some aspects that translate from wrestling,” says Carroll of serving church youth. “You’re trying to fill a leadership role and reinforce values.”

With academics as his focus, Carroll is headed to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in the fall accompanied by the knowledge that hard work will get him where he wants to be, whether in athletics or in life.

“I’d say that wrestling has taught me how to work hard,” says Carroll. “That working hard is doing what you don’t want to do, when you don’t want to do it. Reinforcing that is a large takeaway.”

TAKE IT TO THE MAT

Troy Madrigal remembers his first afternoon on a wrestling mat, the enjoyment he felt learning the new sport and the quick answer he gave his mother, Rosa, when asked if he wanted to come back the next day.

Madrigal was 7 years old at the time. He won a state title in USA Wrestling’s youngest division the following year and hasn’t let up, capturing a Trinity League title in the 145-pound weight class last February as a sophomore at Servite High School.

“It went from weeks to months to years,” Madrigal said of his early training. “I stayed with the sport because I loved it so much.”

Now a junior with the Friars, he has ratcheted up his expectations this season while also eyeballing a lower weight class, a strategic but somewhat risky move for a 16-year-old wrestler of his caliber.

“A really important goal is to place at state,” he said. “Get on the podium.”

Finishing in the top eight in his weight class at the state championships March 3-4 at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield is a realistic goal for Madrigal, who lost to eventual state champion Zander Wick of San Marino in the second round of the CIF-SS Masters meet last winter, the final qualifying meet for the state championships.

He dropped down a weight class last June at the Cadet World Trials in Akron, Ohio and felt strong physically, though he wasn’t satisfied with his results on the mat.

That experience gave him confidence that he could drop down to the 138-pound division during the high school season and still succeed.

“I can be more competitive and stronger,” he said. “I can get better at state and place higher.”

Dropping down to a lower weight for competitive advantages takes considerably more discipline for a wrestler, from his diet to the extreme exercise that’s often needed to make weight before a meet.

Madrigal remains confident that he can return to the weight class he wrestled at two years ago and dominate even more.

“I hit [that weight at the Cadet World Trials] and I, for sure, know I can hit it during the season,” he said.

Servite’s regular-season schedule is loaded with the toughest meets on the West Coast, including the Friars’ own invitational, The Mann Classic, scheduled for Dec. 16-17 at Santiago Canyon College.

They’ll head to Reno just after Christmas for the 85-team Sierra Nevada Classic, then to Arizona for the Peoria Tournament of Champions just after the New Year. After that, it’s back to Orange County for the prestigious Five Counties tournament Jan. 14-15 at Fountain Valley High School.

To finish where the Friars believe they should, they’ll need to replace some of the best wrestlers in the 10-year history of the program.

Liam Cronin was Servite’s first state finalist when he finished second in the 106-pound class two years ago, then repeated that runner-up finish last season in the 113-pound division. Angel Cordova was a state qualifier at 160 pounds last season and he also graduated.

“We’re really stacked on the lower weights, probably from 106 to 152,” Madrigal said. “From 160s up, it’s going to be iffy. We’re going to have to fill in some spots but, who knows, we can find some good guys. We can put him in there and they can get points.”

 

TREVOR PEREZ

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When Trevor Perez started his freshman year at Mater Dei High School, he didn’t have any experience competing as a wrestler. With a background in jiu-jitsu and mixed martial arts, the Irvine resident approached his new sport with commitment and enthusiasm.

“I was in MMA (mixed martial arts) and that’s what prompted me to get into wrestling,” says Perez. “Coming into my freshman year, I did a [wrestling] camp in the summer and it gave me a good idea of what it would be like and it seemed like fun.”

Now a senior, Perez didn’t let his inexperience stop him from making an immediate and lasting impression on the sport at Mater Dei.

“We asked a lot of him as a freshman to wrestle varsity,” says the Monarchs head varsity wrestling coach, Luis Renteria. “For him to never have been a wrestler is unique. He picked it up pretty quick. He has more experience now and more confidence. The other kids look up to him.”

Perez admits that the sport has taught him patience, especially being the new kid on the mat. His dedication and commitment to working on his technique have produced positive results.

“There’s so much with this sport,” says Perez. “Every match is different. I couldn’t be the best my freshman year. It takes time to learn technique…Confidence is the key.”

Perez now has the opportunity to help bring along those who are new to the sport, just as he was four years ago.

“This year we have a lot of young wrestlers, but they’re really stepping up,” says Perez. “They’re a little inexperienced, but hopefully with time and patience, their technique will get better.”

After qualifying for the California state championships as a junior, Perez would like to close out his high school career with another state qualification and finish with a placement in the state tournament. He says it will be hard to leave not only his teammates, but also the entire high school wrestling community.

“What I’m going to miss the most is the tradition and the family I made here,” says Perez. “Not just with my team, but the whole Trinity League. We all push ourselves to do the best that we can.”

The 18-year-old is hoping his college years will involve both competing in wrestling and studying music. But he’s grateful for the commitment from his family, especially his father, in allowing him the chance to pursue the sport.

“Someone who inspires me is actually my dad,” says Perez. “He came from a different country (Colombia) without knowing much English at all. We were in sports he didn’t really know anything about, but he took us places to help further us in those sports. He always pushes us to do our best.”

WRESTLERS PREPARE FOR TRINITY LEAGUE FINALS

Not all hope is lost.

As wrestlers gear up for the Trinity League finals Feb. 13, Orange County’s top-ranked team, Servite, will get another shot at Bellflower St. John Bosco.

The Friars lost to Bosco in a league dual meet, 37-29, but the league finals will represent an opportunity for Servite to claim a share of the Trinity League championship.

“They are still a powerhouse,” Mater Dei coach Luis Renteria says of the Friars, who have finished first or near the top in every tournament in which they’ve competed this season, their only dual-meet blemish coming against visiting St. John Bosco on Jan. 22. “Sometimes when it comes to the dual-meet season, a dual can be different with wrestlers’ performances and how they compete individually,” says Renteria. “Servite is still the team to beat.”

To claim third place in the Trinity League dual-meet season, Mater Dei defeated Santa Margarita, 45-28, on the road, and the Monarchs have their eyes set on upsetting the field at the league finals.

“That’s what we’re hoping for,” Renteria says. “We need to be ready mentally and they have to believe in themselves. The hardest part about coaching in this sport is getting the kids to believe that they can compete at the highest level. If we can make them believe, the whole thing turns around.”

For Mater Dei, 126-pound freshman Bradley Smith outscored his Santa Margarita opponent, 11-5, before winning by pin, while 145-pounder Julie Calzada put her opponent on his back on the mat several times before pinning her Eagle challenger. Mater Dei’s Jed Smith (195) and Garret Wright (132) also won their matches by pins.

Sean Carroll (160) and Dylan Johnson (182) won by decision and major decision, respectively, for Santa Margarita, and are expected to be two of the Eagles’ most competitive wrestlers at the league finals.

For Servite, its loss to St. John Bosco was a first this season in an otherwise celebrated campaign.

“We hope that all 14 [wrestlers] are league placers and truly believe that we can get 14 qualified out of CIF to Masters if we keep going at the rate we currently are,” Servite coach Alan Clinton says.

Of the two wrestlers in each of the 14 weight divisions in the Orange County All-Star Classic at Marina High Jan. 19, Servite occupied 11 of the spots with Liam Cronin (106), A.J. Silva (120), Noah Blakley (126), Wolfgang Bernal (132), J.J. Reed (145), Angel Cordova (152), Gordon Livermore (170), Michael Vasquez (182), Parker Saltzman (195), Kyle Paterson (220) and heavyweight V.J. Leuta.

Earlier, Servite qualified seven competitors to the championship quarterfinals in the prestigious Five Counties Invitational at Fountain Valley: Cronin, Blakley, Cordova, Vasquez, Saltzman, Paterson and Leuta. Servite finished with seven medalists, one finalist and a second place in the 60-plus team tournament, the school’s best finish ever at the tournament.

“We have had a very good start (this season),” Clinton says. “All 14 have stepped up and surprised us with their fantastic performances. All 14 are going above and beyond, or we would not be in the position we are in. We can’t be as solid as we are without everyone doing their part.”

Last year, Servite had five Trinity League champions, including Blakley, Saltzman and Paterson, and 10 CIF placers, including Cronin, Blakley, Reed and Livermore.

Mater Dei, meanwhile, is hoping wrestlers Johnny McLaughlin, Trevor Perez, Wright, Calzada, Bradley Smith, Jed Smith and senior Kevin Jacobs can carry the Monarchs deep into the 2015 postseason.

“The Trinity League’s top three teams are Servite, St. John Bosco and we’ve been blessed to have an OK season,” says Renteria, whose squad also defeated Orange Lutheran in a Trinity League dual match. “We have a lot of young kids, but right now we’re in third heading into league finals.”

Mater Dei’s first real test of the season came at the Beach Bash Tournament at Edison High, where the Monarchs had six medalists. They had five medalists, including 106-pound champion McLaughlin, at the Cavalier Classic Tournament at Santiago, where Mater Dei finished fourth.

Jacobs was one of six Mater Dei wrestlers who placed in the top three at the league finals last year.

Before becoming head coach at Mater Dei four years ago in an effort to resurrect the program, Renteria coached at his alma mater, Los Amigos, followed by a short stint at Century, five years at Mission Viejo and five years at Edison, where he won a CIF championship in his first year. Renteria coached 10 state qualifiers and three state placers at Edison, where he earned Sunset League and Orange County Coach of the Year honors.

JED SMITH

It was at the urging of his football coach at Mater Dei High School that Jed Smith found his way into wrestling for the Monarchs.

The 16-year-old junior had only played football prior to starting high school. But the summer before his freshman year, it was suggested to Smith that he look at adding wrestling to his athletic repertoire because the sport is often beneficial to those who also spend time on the gridiron.

“I really liked it,” says Smith after giving wrestling a try that first year, “so I stuck with it.”

Now Smith has solidified his spot as a member of the varsity team in Mater Dei’s up-and-coming wrestling program, having placed in each of the tournaments he’s participated in so far this season.

Described by Smith as a “smaller team with more to prove,” Smith and his teammates don’t shy away from the bigger competition, something that has made them closer as a group and has proved successful on the mat.

“Everyone is really close-knit at Mater Dei,” says Smith of his team.

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Being a newcomer to the sport has provided its share of challenges for Smith, but as he competes in his third season for Monarch wrestling, the two-sport varsity athlete has been committed to putting in whatever it takes to make up for those deficiencies.

“The biggest challenge coming in as a new wrestler is that a lot of kids have been wrestling since they were little,” says Smith. “I have to work harder at practice. I put in extra time with coach to make up for the time I’ve lost so I can compete with them.”

Smith’s extra commitment is paying off, as Mater Dei’s head varsity wrestling coach, Luis Renteria, sees Smith establishing himself as a role model for the team’s younger athletes.

“He’s a coach’s dream,” says Renteria. “He’s always about the team, instead of himself, and that’s what sets him apart. His success is giving him more confidence. He’s beginning to believe that he’s good at this, but remains humble.”

While graduation remains more than a year away, the Orange resident has his post-high school sights set on traveling east to Annapolis.

“After high school, I’d like to attend the [United States] Naval Academy,” says Smith, “and I’d like to play sports and stay active in college.”

Whether he continues to wrestle or not, his experience in the sport, along with his faith, has taught Smith some valuable life lessons.

“You can go further than you think you can,” says Smith on what he’s learned from wrestling. “When you’re tired and you don’t have a lot left to give and you come out winning, you know God was there with you, helping you through that hard time.”

LEADING THE (YOUNG) MEN IN BLACK

Alan Clinton knew what to expect when he took the job as Servite’s athletic director in 2006. He just didn’t know what to expect as the school’s first wrestling coach.

But like he did at his previous school, El Modena High in Orange, Clinton dove right into both responsibilities and, eight years later, he’s back at the top of his game.

The athletic program at the all-boys’ school continues to hum along and the Servite wrestling team is tops in Orange County and considered one of the best in the state.

The Friars won the season-opening Cossarek Classic at Westminster High School earlier this month, posting a resounding 54-3 win over Laguna Hills, the second-ranked team in Orange County, in their first dual meet of the season, then went up north over the weekend of Dec. 12-13 and placed second at the prestigious Clovis West Shootout near Fresno.

Servite had a wrestler place in the top five in 12 of 14 weight classes, led by Noah Blakley’s second-place finish at 132 pounds.

Clinton, the Southern Section Athletic Director of the Year in 2008-09, said this season’s group isn’t just talented on the mat, but in the classroom, on campus and anywhere else they spend time.

“It’s an exceptionally good group of young men,” Clinton says. “They’re going to be the kind of kids that take care of us when we get old.”

Clinton began his teaching career at El Modena in 1981 and in four years began coaching the wrestling team. In his 21 years at El Modena, he coached 76 league champions and 13 state champions. Earlier this year he was inducted into the Hall of Fame at El Modena, where his two youngest daughters still attend school.

When he left for Servite in 2006, the Friars did not have a wrestling program and Clinton had to start from scratch. Things moved slowly at first, as Servite didn’t win its first meet until December 2008.

Two years later, however, the Friars finished second at the Mann Classic, Sierra Nevada Classic and Peoria Invitational and third at the Five Counties Invitational, the highest-placing team from Orange County. Servite dominated the Trinity League finals that season, sending all 14 wrestlers to the section championships, where they finished second as a team.

The Friars placed their first two wrestlers at state as Gianpier Yanez placed seventh at 152 pounds and Wyatt Baker was sixth at heavyweight, and Clinton was recognized with the 2010-11 Model Coach Award at the tournament.

“I’ve been fortunate since I started way back at El Modena,” Clinton says.

This season’s squad features the strong depth that has come to signify the Friars in recent years. In addition to Blakley, nine others reached the semifinals at the Clovis West Shootout: Liam Cronin (106), Matt Rodriguez (113), Brent Reed (120), Troy Madrigal (138), J.J. Reed (145), Gordon Livermore (170), Matt Vasquez (182), Kyle Paterson (220) and V.J. Leuta (285).

“Overall, they’re just good, tough, hardworking kids,” Clinton says.

The Friars will get another firm test the week after Christmas as they head to Reno for the Sierra Nevada Classic, which attracts many of the top programs from throughout the West. Servite was the top finisher from Southern California last season, placing fifth.