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ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Manny Zavala, Sierra wrestling
AOW Manny Zavala
Manny Zavala

The senior heavyweight has his sights set on qualifying for the California Interscholastic Federation State Championships after coming up just short two years ago.

Sierra coach Alex Nuanez believes he beginning to round into form at the right time. On Saturday, Zavala successfully defended his Valley Oak League championship with a dominant effort at Central Catholic, capping it with a pinfall win over Oakdale’s Gavin Gleason. He’s the lone VOL champ from a Manteca Unified school.

“He has dominated just about every opponent this year,” Nuanez said. “He is settling into a groove right now. His power and speed are making a difference this season.”

Zavala is 13-1 on the season with two tournament wins and a runner-up finish. His lone loss is to T.J. Takafua of Fremont High (Sunnyvale), the third ranked heavyweight in the state, by The California Wrestler. Zavala is ranked ninth in the state by TCW, second in NorCal by SportsStars and No. 1 in the SJS by Cal Grappler.

Up next for Zavala is the SJS Division III Tournament this Saturday at Vista del Lago of Folsom. He took second in Division III as a sophomore before placing seventh in the SJS Masters. The top six in the SJS Masters advance to state.