With the 2019-2020 winter sports season beginning for local high schools, that means the start of a new wrestling campaign for the Fremont Firebirds. Under Co-Head Coaches Dan McCune and Erik Duus, the Firebirds have featured one of the top teams in CCS year in and year out. And it’s not just the boys. The lady Firebirds are amongst the top in the section with senior Melissa Lee and junior Annie Hua looking to finish first in CCS in their respective weight classes.
Lee finished first in 2018 CCS for the 101 lb weight class.
“This year, I want to place higher at state,” said Lee on improving from her finish last season. “I know I’m going to have to work a lot harder. I want to get progressively better each year.”
Hua, meanwhile, finished second in the 137 lb class.
“This year, I’m hoping to win CCS, I’ve been in the finals twice in a row since freshman year, but wasn’t able to win,” said Hua. “I’m hoping this is the year. State wise I’m hoping to finish in the top-3. I placed 8th as a freshman, but didn’t place last year.”
Coach Duus cites the development of middle school and elementary school programs in Sunnyvale as helping sustain the high level of Fremont’s high school team.
“When I first came here, it was a lot of teaching [the freshmen] from zero,” admitted coach Duus. “So, it was kind of frustrating and all the other top teams had big feeder teams. So, we started an elementary school league in the Sunnyvale elementary school system five years ago. This is our first group of freshmen that were fourth or fifth graders back then. So now we have athletes coming in and they already have the basics down so we can cover more advanced stuff.”
Most of the top boys wrestlers on last year’s squad graduated in 2018. Returning, though, for his senior year this year is Miguel Luna.
“Last year, I didn’t have a good finish in CCS, didn’t finish the way I wanted to,” admitted Luna. “This year, I want to improve on my academics and my technique in the wrestling room. Take it one day at a time and not overthink it. If I think about where I wanna finish, I’ll overthink it and put too much pressure on myself.”
Also wrestling for the boys this season is junior Brandon Bulatao. The boys as a team finished seventh in all of CCS last year.
“Last year, went somewhat my way, the first part of the season was alright, but I could have done better. The second half of the season is when I started to peak,” recalled Bulatao. “Postseason didn’t really go my way. I had the same result as my freshman year. High school seems to be going fast. I need to pick up the intensity. My goal this year is to make it to state. I’ve been practicing and training over the summer, I really love wrestling.”
The first meet of the season for the Firebirds will be the Peninsula Invitational Tournament at Half Moon Bay High School on Dec. 6 and 7.