STOCKTON — They are soft-spoken, humble and self-deprecating. Off the mat .
On the mat, once that two-minute whistle blows, Calvary Chapel's State-bound wrestling team is none of the above.
Today the Eagles begin their second State title bid when the two-day tournament commences this morning at Pacific's Spanos Center in Stockton.
The Division III Southern Section and defending State champion Calvary Chapel heads an impressive 31-strong Orange County contingent, 11 of whom are among the top four seeded wrestlers in their divisions.
Last year, when the small Santa Ana school won its first title, the Eagles did it with six wrestlers. This year they send eight, twice as many as Shingle Springs Ponderosa, the team the Eagles defeated for the 1993 title, 79-72.
Several county coaches have said Calvary Chapel needs only to show up to win its second consecutive title. The Eagles aren't making guarantees but know they're heavily favored to repeat last season's run.
"Every week, the level of interest goes up," said Dane Valdez, the top-seeded wrestler at 125 pounds and the defending State champion at 119. "We know we're capable of doing well. We're definitely peaking for (State)."
Eagles expected to finish well this weekend include Valdez and brother Shane (119), who was a State runner-up at 112 last year; Masters champions Josh Holiday (145) and Ed Mosley (152), who are seeded third and first; section and Masters runner-up and second-seeded Joe Calavitta (103), and section champion Mauricio Mora (135).
Division I section dual and team champion El Modena has the athletes to improve on its 12th-place finish in 1993. The Vanguards are represented by section champion and 1993 State runner-up Teak Sato (130), who transferred from Savanna in February, Masters champion Juan Alvarez (135), runner-up David Wells (140) and Chris Jaime (145).
Teams that could press Calvary Chapel are Ponderosa, and six-time State champion Clovis which qualified five wrestlers. San Diego power Poway sent three representatives.
Buena Park qualified top-seeded Vince Virgen, who dropped to 130 pounds for the postseason and upset Sato at the Masters meet, and heavyweight Wali Sibrie, a runner-up here last year.
Santa Ana is represented by Ronald Hernandez (130), Roger Santiago (103) and Miguel Valencia (125). Capistrano Valley sent section and Masters champion Terry Tuzzolino (171) and Alec Laidlaw (160).
The Orange County representatives:
103--Joe Calavitta (Calvary Chapel), Roger Santiago (Santa Ana); 119--Tim Lee (Woodbridge), Shane Valdez (Calvary Chapel); 125--Jonte Davis (Edison), Justin Meier (Irvine), Dane Valdez (Calvary Chapel), Miguel Valencia (Santa Ana); 130--Ronald Hernandez (Santa Ana), Tom Noel (El Dorado), Teak Sato (El Modena), Vince Virgen (Buena Park)
135--Juan Alvarez (El Modena), Mauricio Mora (Calvary Chapel); 140--Darryl Christian (Canyon), Alfred Frausto (Edison), Danny Robinson (Calvary Chapel), David Wells (El Modena); 145--Josh Holiday (Calvary Chapel), Chris Jaime (El Modena); 152--Ed Mosley (Calvary Chapel), John Witting (San Clemente)
160--Chris Edwards (Newport Harbor), Alec Laidlaw (Capistrano Valley); 171--Marc Albert (Los Alamitos), Eric Escobedo (Huntington Beach), Terry Tuzzolino (Capistrano Valley), Matt Van Hook (Calvary Chapel); 189--Jessy Liu (Woodbridge); Hwt--Jim Ambriz (Saddleback), Wali Sibrie (Buena Park), Mark Zolikoff (Laguna Hills).