The Mad Dawg Wrestling Club based out of Folsom High School had a unique experience Tuesday when they wrestled a high school team from New Zealand.
The dual match took place in Folsom High’s multi-purpose room. Because this was an international wrestling match, the athletes competed in freestyle wrestling, the type of grappling seen in the Olympics. New Zealand brought in seven individual wrestlers ranging in weight from 121 pounds to 170 pounds. Mad Dawg was able to provide their New Zealand opponents with two separate matches a piece for a total of 14 bouts for the night. When it was all said and done, Mad Dawg dominated the dual match winning 13 of the 14 bouts.
The Mad Dawg contingent was comprised of 10 wrestlers from Folsom High School, three wrestles from Vista del Lago High School and one individual from Sutter Middle School, with most of these athletes having just completed highly successful varsity wrestling seasons in March.
Wrestlers from Folsom High School included Curtis Booth, Carlos Alvarez, Andrew Coyne, Jason Bergquist, Braedon Kavan, Jordan Denny, Connor Friery, Mason Koshiyama, Lorenzo Del La Riva and Nicholas Fiegener. Representing Vista del Lago included: Ney Vencer, Evan Shelley and Ben Johnson. The lone wrestler from Sutter Middle School was Emilio Del La Riva.
The seven student-athletes from New Zealand are on a two-week wrestling tour in California. All the boys are students at Dilworth School, a private institution in Auckland, New Zealand. According to their head coach, Scott Boness, Dilworth caters to disadvantaged boys. Students often come from low income or single-parent households. Tuition is paid in full, which includes room and board for the live-in campus. Books as well as educational materials are also provided. The school has been in existence for more than 100 years, having been established in the late 1800’s. There are three different Dilworth campuses with approximately 600 total students in all, ranging in elementary school aged children through high school.
Coach Boness said most of his wrestlers have limited wrestling experience, as a majority of his athletes have only been wrestling just a few years. He appreciated being able to compete against top-notch wrestlers such as Fiegener, who was the runner-up at the 2013 California High School State Championships. The New Zealand contingent will travel through central California where they are scheduled to compete in a four-way team dual match in Fresno. They will then end up in Southern California, wrestling in a tournament down there.
After the dual match with New Zealand, Mad Dawg hosted a hot dog barbecue held at the picnic tables outside the multi-purpose room. However, perhaps the highlight of the evening took place directly after the wrestling match. As the Folsom boys lined up to shake hands with their opponents, they noticed the New Zealand team lined-up shoulder to shoulder, stripped of their shirts. New Zealand then went into a traditional Haka Maori War Dance. They slapped their chests, arms and legs shouting and yelling chants toward the Mad Dawg wrestlers. They made faces and stuck-out their tongues. New Zealand advanced with the war dance across the mat just stopping within inches of the Mad Dawg wrestlers. This went on for several minutes. The Folsom boys quite didn’t know how to respond, but they figured they just got a unique taste of international wrestling competition.