Wrestling ready to tackle the season

Cerritos College head wrestling coach Don Garriott takes on the new gym and his team of returners and newcomers as they prepare for their next season.

After several years of waiting as the Cerritos College Falcon Gymnasium was being reconstructed, Garriott and his team were given a gym at Excelsior High School to practice in.

Coming back from having to deal with the poor conditions they were given, Garriott is relieved to be working in the new gym.

“It took kind of a toll on us. Leaving school, having to get into (our) cars, go down there, workout and then everyone just kind of dispersed from there instead of coming back to the locker room and having that camaraderie.

I think it really hurt us over those last three years, so I’m really excited to be back in our facility again.”

Garriott added that it’s a relief to have everything the team needs to have a good workout and get proper conditioning, and it helps to create a better team dynamic.

As far as conditioning is concerned, the team is doing as they’ve always done with the added benefit of having easy access to both the Weight Room and the Fitness Lab.

During the summer, the practices consisted of about 40-50 wrestlers because, according to Garriott, most were working during the summer. He said as the season nears, more men are coming to practice to prepare for the season.

However, he is limiting the team to only about 50 wrestlers.

“I think sometimes we carry too much weight with guys that probably shouldn’t be here. They’re not quite as committed as they should be so it’s a fresh start.

Now that we’re back here (the gym), we’re going to be a little stricter on who we take in.”

Out with the old and in with the new, Garriott talked about how well the newcomers are doing with keeping up with the returning wrestlers.

“It’s about half and half. The guys that we recruited to come, they’re fine. They’re already well known wrestlers in the high school ranks.

Then we get a lot of newcomers that just kind of went to high school and maybe wrestled around here. Maybe they didn’t have the success of the other guys and are maybe hoping to break through–and some might.”

Coming back for another season, 141-pounder Greg Barrera said about his new team, “We actually had some guys that graduated, so we had a couple losses but I think we should be pretty good (this season). We have a couple of tough guys coming in, especially at 125s (weight class). We have a state placer who took third, so we should do good (in that weight class).”

The third placer, sophomore Gabe Ballesteros, said that he’s been preparing for the season outside of practice by working out at the gym and running.

He said about his fellow returning teammates, “We have a lot of returning guys that have been very successful in the past, so I think that’ll help me with my wrestling and they’ll help me better myself.”

Ballesteros’ goal for this season is to return to State Championships as a first place champion.

He said his plan for getting there is “just workout everyday, get better with my technique and just keep bettering myself and trying to figure out ways to improve.”

He said that from his teammates, he sees potential in fellow 125-pounder Steven Cabanas.

Cabanas is returning after taking time off since his freshman year in 2010 where he ranked No. 1 in the state in the 125 weight class.

Coming back after several years, Cabanas said, “It’s definitely a challenge. I’m kind of the ‘old buck’ here. A lot of young kids are here. They’re in shape. They’ve been wrestling for like three years straight now, so I think I do have what it takes.”

He added, “I know what it is to be successful and I have the skill set, so I just keep working (and) keep (to) what I’m used to and hopefully I’ll overcome my odds.”

Cerritos College will have its first event of the season on Saturday, Sept. 21 at the Mt. Antonio Duals at 9 a.m.