By CONNIE and LYNN BAER
In 1958, wrestling was first designated as a varsity sport. In 1958, wrestler Dave Christian placed fourth in the Southern California CIF competition. Under the coaching of Ken Maynard, the program developed its standing in San Diego County’s Metro League, placing third in 1960 and again in 1962 with a record of 10-2.
That legacy continued over the next two decades, the 1960s and 1970s, with the emergence of a family of wrestlers, the five Funke brothers — Carl, Chris, Bill, Andy, and Alex. The Funkes were a dominant presence in league and county meets, being named to Grossmont District League and CIF First teams.
Since 2005, Foothiller wrestlers have been coached by 16-year head coach Todd Bell, Class of 1993, himself a four-year GHS wrestler, who won his weight class in San Diego CIF competitions in 1991, 1992, and 1993. In 1992, Todd placed second in the California state meet and in 1993, he placed fourth. In 2000, senior Jordan Everett also won his weight class in San Diego CIF competition.
Since 2017, coach Bell has been assisted by volunteer coach Mike Mendoza, Class of 1964, who was also a Foothiller wrestler and letterman. Mendoza was first an assistant coach from 1978-1985 and then he was head coach from 1986-1993. Coach Bell was one of his students.
Under coach Bell, the Foothiller teams won league championships in 2007 and 2008. Last year, under these two experienced coaches’ leadership, along with volunteer Aaron Armstrong, the team won the 2019 Valley League, moving this year into the Hills League.
This year’s team has 41 boys who compete in varsity, JV, or frosh/soph.
Six varsity seniors lead the team with Darrin White 13-1 in competition this year. Sebastian Coates, 9-3, has been successful this season, winning the Mission Hills Varsity Wrestling Tournament Jan. 4. The other seniors this season are Noah Escalante, Kade Lange, Joe Rosas, and Emiliano Gonzalez, who has the fastest pin of the year so far at 13 seconds in varsity competition. The current JV coach is Gabe Padilla, Class of 2010, who wrestled for Bell as a Grossmont student.
This year’s girls team consists of four girls, compared to previous years of only one or two girl wrestlers, with a new volunteer coaching them, Rick Sherry, who coached previously in North County for several years. The girls compete against other girls teams, often with JV competitors, and compete in varsity and novice divisions. Junior Gabby Coates, 10-2 in competition, has also competed against boys.
This winter, the team has been doing well at tournaments. On Jan. 16, the team began Hills League competition, which the coaches anticipate will be a very tightly contested competition.
To learn more about GHS past and present, visit foothillermuseum.com or visit the GHS Museum Wednesdays by appointment or on Wednesday, Feb. 5, from 12:30-3:30 p.m. or 5-6 p.m. Contact: 619-668-6140 or email email@example.com.
— Connie and Lynn Baer write on behalf of the Grossmont High School Museum.