Longtime assistant wrestling coach gets top job

Claremont High School has a new wrestling coach, but he is hardly a stranger on campus. Joe Marchillo has been the assistant coach for nine years and is a former Wolfpack wrestler and a 2007 CHS graduate. Plus, he lives in nearby Pomona, so don’t be surprised if you bump into him and his wife Kristin walking their dog Luna in the Village sometime.

The wrestling program has struggled in years past. They haven’t won a league meet since 2017. Before that, it was 2007. Part of the problem has been getting enough wrestlers to fill the varsity roster, resulting in costly forfeitures on match day.

This year CHS seems to have solved that problem with 50 wrestlers and a full varsity lineup. Unfortunately, the Pack has some key players sidelined with injuries, but as Palomares League approaches, Coach Marchillo is optimistic about the team’s chances.

“We have a lot of young talent and I am excited about that. The numbers that we started with are some of the highest I have seen. We had 50 kids,” Coach Marchillo said. “But we have had the injury bug—we have 17 guys who are out.”

Part of the injury problem stems from the size of the wrestling room, which is about the size of an average classroom. The close quarters have apparently resulted in costly collisions.

Wrestling is an individual sport as well, and Claremont has standouts, including senior Brandon Fairman who, at 138 pounds, was phenomenal last year. He placed fourth in the Palomares League finals and eighth in the CIF tournament.

Other names to watch for this season include Sebastian Gomez at 126, Ethan Ramos at 170 and Eddie Flores at 220. In addition, heavyweight Chris Lopez should be good but he is still listed among those with injuries.

Wrestling has been coed for several years now and the Claremont girls have had some success. There are only two of them, including Xcaret Torres, who was pretty tough last year and is back wrestling at 113. The girls compete in their own tournaments, but for the most part they compete shoulder-to-shoulder with their male teammates.  

“We live in a league where every school is tough,” Coach Marchillo said. “We have a lot of kids who are going to be tough to wrestle against. It won’t be an easy match for anyone else to come beat us.”

Claremont’s first league match will be away against Ayala on the 19th. Ayala is a powerhouse, as is Alta Loma, according to Coach Marchillo.

Asked about his new position, Coach Marchillo said he just loves CHS wrestling. “Coaching sometimes is just in your blood. I am a coach at heart,” he said.

Boys basketball building strength on a balanced roster

The Claremont Wolfpack basketball team seems to thrive on adversity in preseason play.

The boys had a rocky start last year but rallied in league play, earning third place with a 6-4 record and an automatic berth to the CIF tournament. That is exactly how you want it to play out—work hard in the early season so you can peak when it really counts. Unfortunately, the Pack lost by six points to Highland in the first round, but the game could have easily gone the other way.

With a 4-6 record so far, this season has had a similarly rocky start. But it’s still very early and Claremont has a nice balanced roster with just six seniors, so prospects are very good.

Last weekend the Wolfpack made it to the championship game of the El Rancho Tournament, losing by nine points to a really good Schurr team. But right up to the end, it was anyone’s game, according to Coach Stan Tolliver.

“The guys are working hard”?Coach Tolliber said. “We have a cohesive group and a good mix of young and veteran. You want to have a good mix so you don’t turn over the whole roster.”

Many returning players were part of the varsity rotation last year but are now being asked to step up into major positions. This is a tough transition and one that will take some work. Unfortunately, the Pack’s most experienced player, Jacob Lopez, is out with a broken hand. “He is kind of the glue for us,” Coach Tolliver said.

Football standout Ryan Campuzano has given the Pack some good quality minutes, and three-year returning center Sebastian DePrez has been racking up double doubles so far this season. Marcus Sheppard, who recently enrolled at CHS, will be filling in at point guard once he becomes eligible to play in a couple of weeks. Once Sheppard is added to the mix, other players will be rotated to positions they are more comfortable playing, according to Coach Tolliver.

Coach Tolliver has been leading the Pack for 12 years and has built a solid program.

“It’s been a fun ride—obviously Claremont is a great community with great kids,” he said. “I have really enjoyed trying to establish a culture of success here at Claremont and I think we have been able to do that over the 12 years, so I’m pretty proud of that.”

In Palomares League, which gets started after the winter break, defending champion Colony is going to be tough. They have a freshman who is highly rated, in addition to a good majority of the players returning. Bonita is having a good preseason as is Glendora.

Claremont will be doing some skill work and adding some additional elements to the offense and defense for the last half of the preseason, and in preparation for the first league match against Ayala on January 7 in Chino Hills.

—Steven Felschundneff



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