Granada’s Wrestling Team Places High at MidCals, Eyes on NCS and State


Adam J Clark Photography

Naeem Salemi holding his hand up after defeated his Livermore high opponent in the duel meet at Granada.

Marco Garibaldi, Reporter And Editor

Last Friday and Saturday, January 22nd and 23rd, Granada Wrestling competed in the 2022 MidCal Wrestling tournament at Gilroy High School. Granada did exceptionally well and placed 6th place overall. Individually, Jackson Morgan finished first, Lauren Nguyen finished second, Nathan Loyd finished fourth and Josiah Hurd finished fifth. On top of that, Naeem Salemi finished sixth and Jayson Victoria finished seventh.

The MidCals wrestling tournament is one of the biggest tournaments in California, with a  confirmed 79 schools attending the event and of those 75, 36 were girls teams. MidCals, has been taking place at Gilroy High School every year since 2008. Schools such as De La Salle, Lincoln High, Pioneer Valley, Spanish Springs and Sacred Heart Cathedral attended the event. This tournament was not only an opportunity for athletes and coaches to enjoy a fun weekend of wrestling, but this was the chance for smaller programs to put their school on the map for colleges and NCS.

For each weight class there was a preseeding for the top wrestlers competing in that group and only a few of Granada’s wrestlers were seeded. In the 170 pound weight class Naeem Salemi was seeded fourth, in the 152 pound weight class Jackson Morgan was ranked first, in the 145 pound weight class Josiah Hurd was seeded eighth and in the 132 pound weight class Jayson Victoria was seeded seventh. This was all announced a few days before the tournament.

Part of the team’s success was not just because of the players, but the coach. Most great teams have a great coach and Coach Sean Jackson is the Varsity wrestling coach at Granada and has earned nothing but respect from his players. He has been described as intense, supportive and hard working. He pushes his players to be better than the day before and even though he might push them far sometimes, it’s all with good intentions and pays off. Coach Jackson seems to always have his players’ backs and is trying to help players not only understand what they did wrong, but what they can improve on. He always pushes them to become better wrestlers and better athletes. “He always makes sure we’re in the right state of mind. He makes sure we are focused on the game and what’s in front of us. Take one match at a time,” said Naeem Salemi.

Even though this was a fun and bonding wrestling tournament for the team, it was still hosted in the midst of a global pandemic where the omicron variant is spreading through schools and sports faster than ever. Last year all levels of Granada wrestling did not compete in any tournaments and only practiced and wrestled amongst themselves. Nathan Lloyd described the tournament as a “Breakthrough” and “An upgrade from last season.” In addition to that Jackson Morgan said, “They wouldn’t let anyone inside so we all were outside, so when we would watch each other’s matches it was all on one person’s phone.” Naeem Salemi described it as fun and different.

Overall, Granada wrestling performed exceptionally well at MidCals but had bigger priorities on their list. Most seniors on the team are looking forward to NCS and possibly competing in State, while younger players on the team are just focused on improving and continuing to learn from each other. “I’m looking forward to NCS. I’m trying to win and do my best. I want to get better and learn new things,” said Jayson Victoria. Some are even looking to wrestle in college after this season. Granada wrestling is a great program and is starting to earn respect from other powerhouse schools in EBAL and out of conference.

If you would like to watch replays of Granada’s matches from MidCals click here.


Highlight responses from the players:

1. First of all congrats on the first place finish. So what was the name, location and environment of this tournament? Was this a big wrestling tournament in the area and how long did this tournament last?

Answer: “It was called MidCals, in Gilroy. It was just a regular tournament, but they wouldn’t let anyone inside, so we all were outside so when we would watch each other’s matches it was all on one person’s phone. We usually are but it was the only tournament that didn’t allow people inside. It was cool because we were all outside watching it, and then to see everyone warming up, and you see other people screaming. You’re like three seconds behind, and you’re like what happened and then you see. So it was pretty cool.”-Jackson Morgan

2. How does it feel to compete in a big tournament after a Covid-shortened season last year?

Answer: “It’s pretty fun because last year we only had like six weeks of wrestling, and the season got cut short again because of Covid. Lots of progression that people could have made in this sport was cut short because of Covid, and so many people could have progressed even more, but they weren’t able to because Covid took that away. It’s good to get back on the mat and be able to wrestle during a Covid year. It’s pretty fun.”-Naeem Salemi

3. How did your coach Sean Jackson help you win this tournament?

Answer: ”So Sean Jackson, my coach, he’s very intense, but he’s also a good coach in general. Even though he’s intense and pushes us a little bit far sometimes, he definitely knows what we’re capable of. He basically leads on the path to the best decisions that we can make and the best wrestling that we can do.”-Nathan Lloyd

4. What was your mentality going into this tournament?

Answer: ”My mentality was to at least make it to the second day, and once I made it to second day, I was like let’s aim for first and wrestle my best and do as best as I can, listen to my coaches and try my hardest and not give up.”-Lauren Nyguyn

5. How much did it mean to you to place 5th in this tournament?

Answer: “It was pretty cool, I was the 7th seed, so I placed higher than I was supposed to.”-Josiah Hurd

6. What tournaments or other events are you looking forward to this year?

Answer: “I’m looking forward to NCS, I’m trying to win and do my best.”-Jayson Victoria

7. What are your goals for the rest of this wrestling season? 

Answer: “Personally I want to place at NCS, individually for our tournament, that way I can go to the state level and wrestle at the state tournament. Top three from NCS go to the state level so I’m looking forward to that if I place in the top three. As a team, I’m just looking forward to our next duel meet, winning that and then going to NCS and probably wrestling up until the first or second place match against De La Salle.”-Nathan Lloyd