The bodies and minds of Manteca Unified School District wrestlers were busy grappling to a superb finish at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV Championships in Los Banos on Saturday, but their hearts were with East Union coach A.J. Reindel, who lost his wife Raquel Reindel to a tragic automobile accident earlier in the week.
Local wrestlers competed in her honor while coaches throughout the section rallied behind the memory of the charismatic mother and behind-the-scenes jewel of the sport.
“Anyone who walked through the door of that wrestling room or met Raquel at a tournament became a part of her family,” East Union assistant coach James Teeple said amidst tears on Saturday. “It didn’t matter if you wrestled for East Union any other team. She touched a lot of people in a lot of different ways.”
Wrestlers from the Manteca Unified stunned the D-IV field with five admissions to the gold medal match and 10 top-four placements that earned advancement to Friday and Saturday’s SJS Masters in Stockton. Among them was surprise finalist Peter Barrington of EU, who delivered a thrilling semifinal upset and was bested just 4-1 by a returning division champ.
Barrington was only third in the Valley Oak League.
“I probably would not be where I am now if it wasn’t for (Raquel Reindel),” Barrington said after the title match. “If she hadn’t shown me the video of how I did a move that I made up at a tournament, I wouldn’t have gotten over 40 pins with it.”
The apply-named ‘Barrington roll’ gave the 128-pound senior a sudden reversal and pin over Liberty Ranch stalwart Chase Agrella in the semis.
Alberto Loaiza (140) and Lucas Widmer (160) of Sierra, Lathrop’s Alex Garcia (108) and Cody Simerly of Weston Ranch (222) also managed runner-up honors from the tourney.
Loaiza stunned East Union coaches by dedicating his stellar performance to Raquel Reindel before the action started. He would go on to land thrilling victories in the quarterfinals and semifinals before losing to state-ranked Joey Abbate of Central Catholic in the finals.
“She was a good friend of mine and it was a heartbreaking loss,” Loaiza said afterwards. “She meant a lot to me, and that’s why I dedicated my tournament to her.”
Loaiza’s coach, Alex Nuanez Sr., is also close friends with the Reindel family and will be a pallbearer at the upcoming funeral which is destined to host a bevy of support from the wrestling community.
“I think Alberto had a little angel at his side,” Nuanez Sr. said after the semifinals. “She was the heart and soul of the wrestling community and we are wearing her initials on our sleeves right now.”
Lathrop’s Omar Guzman (fourth at 170) joined Weston Ranch wrestlers Nathan Bowen (third, 115), Brandon Mungaro (fourth, 140), James Simerly (third, 160) and Joseph Gomez (fourth, 285) in the consolation finals.
The Cougars were fifth as a team (114.5 points) while Sierra rallied to a surprising 10th (59 points) among the field of 22 scoring programs.
“I’m not sure we wrestled our best here, but Nathan had a good tournament and I thought we did good as a team,” Weston Ranch coach Pat King said. “It’s a grind and this week the kids understand what they have to do on their own.”
Host Los Banos was 10.5-points ahead of Weston Ranch in fourth. Tigers’ coach Josh Adams spent time to advertise a three-day raffle (concluded Sunday during a youth tournament) that raised money to support the Reindel family.
“Raquel was a great person who connected with everyone,” Adams said. “There is an outpouring of support and we want to help the family out and let them know we are here for them.”
“More so than any other sport, wrestling is incredibly intimate. The kind of people the Reindel’s are is the reason the wrestling community wants to help out so badly.”
Raquel Reindel worked for Kaiser Permanente for over 18 years where she advanced through the ranks and was currently the Service Unit Manager for the entire Central Valley Service Area.
She and her husband co-founded the Lancer Youth Wrestling Club in Manteca. She was often found in a high school gym taking stats, running tournaments or filming matches during wrestling season. Her Rosary is Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Cathedral of the Annunciation. The funeral is 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Cathedral of the Annunciation.
To contact Ike Dodson, e-mail email@example.com