KINGSBURG - In his third year as head coach, Bryce Hammond sees “improvement” from a Kingsburg wrestling team that features four wrestlers ranked in the top 25 in the state.
“We’ve improved every year, we haven’t had a year where we stepped back,” Hammond said. “Part of that is we started with them as freshmen. By far, definitely the best team we’ve had for sure.”
Viking wrestlers Jonathan Viveros (No. 10), Bo Jackson (No. 20), Kimo Leia (No. 25), and Ty Lewis (No. 25) will enter the 2018-19 season ranked in the state, according to The California Wrestler. Jett Jackson, Alfred Carpenter, and Brandon Rocha were named honorable mention in The California Wrestler preseason rankings.
With only Viveros qualifying for the state tournament last year, Hammond expects that number to increase to seven guys wrestling in Bakersfield in February.
“I think we got 3-4 largely depending on how they develop this year,” Hammond said. “I think seven, I’m hoping is the minimum we’ll have.”
Viveros, a sophomore, is ranked No. 10 in the 132-pound weight class and he hopes to return the state tourney after going 1-2 at the Rabobank Arena last year.
“It showed where I was at and what I could do,” Viveros said. “I still got three years and I want be a three-time all-american.”
For Viveros to move up on the state rankings, he said he needs to “keep getting better and better” in practice.
“Win or lose, you just have to learn from that,” Viveros said. “If you’re learning, then you’re getting better and if you’re getting better, then you should be able to beat the best.”
Jett Jackson, a sophomore, is someone who hopes to join Viveros in Bakersfield in February.
“My main goal is to make it to that state tournament,” Jett Jackson said. “Last year, I was one or two matches away from making it there.”
Jett Jackson is not only aiming to qualify for the state tournament, but he wants to move up in the rankings.
“I think I deserve to be there in the top 40 in the state,” Jett Jackson said.
For him to move up the state rankings, Jett Jackson said he needs to maximize his time at practice.
“It all starts in here in this room” Jett Jackson said. “We work real hard in here and everyone wants to get there, so it all starts in here, working hard with my teammates.”
Leia is one notable newcomer on the team, who is ranked No. 25 in the 120-pound weight class. Hammond said Leia will be on the only freshman in the varsity lineup.
“To me, he’s like a 1 in 1,000 athlete,” Hammond said. “I never coached a kid with that kind of athleticism, I can’t recall ever being on a team with a kid with that much athleticism. He’s very fluid, technical and makes good decisions.”
Throughout this season, Kingsburg will compete at various tournaments including local tourneys the Zinkin Classic and the Doc Buchanan, and will travel to Southern California for the Five Counties Invitational at Fountain Valley High School.
The Vikings officially start the 2018-19 season with a home dual meet against Coalinga High School on Dec. 4. It will be Kingsburg’s one of two dual meets this season with the other one occurring on Dec. 12 against Reedley High.