The Paso Robles High School wrestling team added a California legend two years ago.
John Azevedo, a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic wrestling team (which missed the Moscow Games because of the boycott) who coached at Cal Poly for 10 years, took over as the program’s head coach. Since then Azevedo, long-time Paso Robles wrestling coach Chris Monteiro and his son — former Cal Poly and Paso Robles High wrestler Matt Monteiro — and have been working together build the Paso Robles wrestlers into champions.
“It has been fun,” Azevedo said. “(Paso Robles) has a tradition of good wrestling — guys going to CIF and going to state — but we are trying to take it to the next level. We are wrestling more year-round and trying to be state champs instead of being league champs.”
Azevdeo, who was NCAA champion at Cal State Bakersfield, a two-time state champion at Grace Davis High School in Modesto and one of the best 112-pound high school wrestlers in the state’s history, knows a thing or two about what that means — and the results are starting to show.
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Paso Robles finished second to Righetti at the PAC-7 league championships and eighth last weekend at the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division Tournament. Five individuals qualified for the CIF-Southern Section Masters Meet, which begins Friday in Temecula.
Paso Robles senior Michael Dominguez was one of those who qualified with a third-place finish.
“It was exciting. I never made it that far before,” Dominguez said. “(Azevedo) brings an attention to detail, things that I never noticed before.”
He also brings notoriety.
“During tournaments, we see random people walking up to say hello to our coach,” Dominguez said.
Azevdeo was coaching at San Marino High School in Southern California when he got the call to come to Paso Robles. The move made sense. He gets to see his daughter and grandkids, who live in Nipomo, and his wife works in the wine industry.
His knowledge will come in handy this weekend as he tries to lead Dominguez (140 pounds), sophomore Dylan Maduena (122), senior Julian Madrigal (152), senior Hunter Deverick and sophomore Porter Tanner (128) to a spot in the CIF State Championships next weekend.
“We tell them to believe in themselves. Believe you can win because you can,” Azevdeo said. “They can qualify if they wrestle well and inspired.”
Melsheimer, Maez make Masters for Arroyo Grande
CIF Masters qualifiers from Arroyo Grande joined the Paso Robles wrestling team’s training session Wednesday. They included PAC 7 champions Trevor Melsheimer (147), who finished fifth at the division finals last weekend, and Isaac Maez (184), who finished fourth.
Melsheimer said practicing with the wrestlers at Paso Robles and other schools helps him prepare for what’s to come this weekend.
“We are close to all the guys in our league,” Melsheimer said. “In dual meets and tournaments, it’s competitive, but after that we all work together.”
Melsheimer said he wasn’t happy with his performance last weekend and is looking to finish strong his senior year.
“I’m really just giving it everything I have because this could be my last chance to wrestle competitively,” Melsheimer said.
Arroyo Grande junior Levi Frey (140), who finished sixth at the division finals, will also travel to Temecula as an alternate.