D'Angelo Cardenas, Robert Rael and Josh Valdivia are three of the many standouts on a Live Oak High wrestling team that is poised to win the Blossom Valley Athletic League Santa Teresa East Division championship. Photo by Jonathan Natividad.

The 2022-2023 Live Oak High wrestling team is on track to go down as one of the program’s best in recent memory. 

The Acorns are coming off a strong performance in the Jim Root Memorial tournament Jan. 13-14 at Prospect High, finishing third behind De La Salle of Concord and Westview of Oregon. Live Oak’s talent and depth resulted in having placers—meaning a top eight finish—in eight of the 14 weight classes.

The placers included freshman Seamus Fry (sixth at 115 pounds), junior Josh Valdivia (sixth at 128), sophomore D’Angelo Cardenas (first at 134), sophomore Robert Rael (fourth at 154), senior Reese Byers (sixth at 162), senior Jaden Frausto (fifth at 197), junior Logan Frausto (fifth at 222), and junior Dariano Garcia (eighth at heavyweight). 

Cardenas went 5-0 to win his weight class, recording three pinfalls and a major decision en route to the title. He also came up clutch in his closest match, a 4-2 decision in the quarterfinals. The Frausto brothers were the two other Live Oak wrestlers who won their final match; Jaden via fall at 2:37 and Logan by fall in just 22 seconds. 

The result came just days after Live Oak recorded a pair of crucial wins in a league tri-duel with Andrew Hill and Overfelt to gain the upper hand in its quest to win the Blossom Valley Athletic League Santa Teresa East Division championship. 

Live Oak and Overfelt were projected to be the two best teams in the division, and that’s exactly how their match played out, with the Acorns pulling out a riveting thriller, 41-39, on Jan. 11. As far as duels go, it doesn’t get much closer than this. 

The Acorns trailed by four points entering the final contested match at 220 pounds, where Logan Frausto scored a first-period fall to earn the team six points and the two-point victory. The only way Live Oak could win was with Frausto getting a pin or technical fall, and that’s exactly what he did. 

Live Oak dueled Andrew Hill first and rolled to a 57-18 victory. After beating Overfelt to cap the tri-duel, Live Oak improved to 3-0 in the division and now has just two regular-season matches remaining—against Gunderson and Piedmont Hills—teams the Acorns are expected to beat rather handily and finish undefeated in league.

The Acorns have solid numbers this season, which often hasn’t been the case in the last dozen years. Frausto’s older brother, Jaden, is a senior wrestling at 195 pounds. 

“They’re both awesome,” Acorns coach Sean Kelly said. 

In the Overfelt match, Logan fell behind early 2-0 before rallying with an escape and takedown. He then pulled a half nelson to set up the pin. In addition to the Frausto brothers, Cardenas, Valdivia, Rael, Byers and Anthony Garcia have been key standouts this season, Kelly said. 

Cardenas has been consistently solid all season, including a seventh-place finish in the Pat Lovell Holiday Classic at Aptos High. Competing at 132 pounds, Cardenas won his final match in thrilling fashion, 7-6 over Enoch High’s Michael Morris. 

“That was a nailbiter,” Kelly said. “D’Angelo got an escape and then a takedown and then held him down for 15 seconds [to close out the match].”

Valdivia took eighth place in the 126-pound division as he and Cardenas were the team’s only placers in the Pat Lovell tournament. Cardenas and Valdivia are undefeated in duels and their work ethic has been noticeable. Since the two are separated by just one weight class, they partner up during practice, the classic iron sharpening iron effect. 

“Both of them are driven and they want to get to that next level,” Kelly said. “They’re right there and just have to eliminate the minor mistakes in their matches.”

Kelly continued: “Joshuah this year is a little bit stronger and seems more patient. He’s kind of focused on what he wants to do and wants to complete. I honestly think he can make State next year if he puts in the work and that extra step towards conditioning and motivation. But I think he’s right there in getting to that next level [among CCS elite].”  

Cardenas trains year-round at the Daniel Cormier Wrestling Academy in Gilroy, and his improvement has shown in his results. And Valdivia is the team captain and Rael the co-captain.

“Robert is a fantastic kid, great listener and has unreal strength,” Kelly said. “He gets everyone motivated, helps people out. He’s the kid no one talks about but when you see him, you’re like, ‘wow dude, that kid has something.’”

On the same weekend of the Jim Root, Live Oak sophomore Jenna Howe was competing in the Ladies Coast Classic at Santa Cruz High. Howe, who took third place in the 150-pound division, has parlayed a solid freshman season into a strong sophomore campaign.

Josh Valdivia, Robert Rael and D’Angelo Cardenas have put in solid results this season. Photo by Jonathan Natividad.
D’Angelo Cardenas, seen here at a recent practice, took first place at 134 pounds in the Jim Root Memorial tournament.
Jenna Howe took 3rd place at 150 pounds in the Ladies Coast Classic on Jan. 14.
Previous articleSmall businesses affected by storms eligible for tax relief
Next articleAs Biden visits, Bay Area reps plead for disaster aid
Emanuel Lee primarily covers sports for Weeklys/NewSVMedia's Los Gatan publication. Twenty years of journalism experience and recipient of several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. Emanuel has run eight marathons with a PR of 3:13.40, counts himself as a true disciple of Jesus Christ and loves spending time with his wife and their two lovely daughters, Evangeline and Eliza.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here