Tim Vanni

Porterville High School head coach, Tim Vanni, right, talks to Hector Nava Jr. during the East Yosemite League championships, Feb. 1, 2020, at Monache High School.

PHS’ Tim Vanni working to get wrestlers a season

State and Central Section championship meets are canceled, but that’s not stopping Tim Vanni from trying to get his wrestlers a match or even a short season. 

The Porterville High School head coach said the Panthers began practicing two weeks ago once they were cleared too, and have kept going despite likely being the only East Yosemite League team to field a team this season.

For Vanni, wrestling this season means giving the seniors some recognition and preparing the underclassmen for next season.

“We’ve got a couple of seniors that hopefully we can get at least one dual meet and have Senior Night at our place,” Vanni said. “Maybe, probably wrestle on the road a couple matches. That will help with the seniors getting some recognition...And it will help get those guys back in the saddle for next year that are coming back.”

One of the seniors that Vanni is trying to get a season for is Hector Nava Jr., the Panthers’ star quarterback who lost out on a football season when Porterville Unified School District canceled it in March. In total, the Panthers have 10 boys and four girls currently practicing.

Like many in the wrestling community, Vanni was disappointed with the section and state’s decision to cancel the championship tournaments. He believed there were other ways they could’ve gone about conducting them, specifically the section championship.

“I tried to convince them to at least have double duals so we could get possibly three matches in the same night and do a round-robin type format,” said Vanni, who is the Central Section Boys Wrestling Advisory Representative. “And then maybe eventually as we move forward, get into an eight-man bracket tournament into different counties, and then maybe the top four of each of those can kind of meet from county to county and do another eight-man bracket. Have some process where we have qualifying to do a section-type tournament.”

Although wrestling is now allowed under the California Department of Public Health guidelines, many teams are not wrestling due to several factors, including numbers and county restrictions. However, Vanni knows of teams that are willing to wrestle, and he’ll work on setting up a schedule for the team over the next few days.

“We do have a couple teams interested, so I’ll attack that on Sunday and Monday and start lining some things up. And see what our district is going to allow us to do,” Vanni said.

Regardless of championships or not, Vanni is set on doing something for his wrestlers.

“I think that’s the point that we’re at right now is trying to get those kids, particularly those seniors, some kind of recognition before they depart,” he said. “And whatever helps the young guys too, because hopefully, they’ll be more ready next year after having a year off basically. So that’s kind of where we’re at right now.”

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