Climbing back to the top

Fregoso, Marquez hope to help Rosemead win CIF title

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By Scott Galetti Staff Writer

With all due respect to track and field and cross country, wrestling just might be the most individualistic high school sport around.
Two combatants going toe-to-toe from start to finish.
Unlike World Wrestling Entertainment, there is nobody to tag or rely on once the referee gives the signal to begin.
Rosemead High School has become the San Gabriel Valley mecca for wrestling over the years, and the Panthers again are attempting to assert themselves as one of the top teams in the state.
In its quest to be the best, Rosemead is led by its captains and senior tag team of Justin Fregoso and Adrian Marquez.
The tandem has been in the Panthers’ program since they were freshmen.
Fregoso finished second at the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division finals a year ago in the 119-pound class, losing to eventual CIF-state champion Jason Lara of Calvary Chapel.
“I think it was a big experience to see what it was like to be in the finals to prepare me for this year, so it’s not a big shock to me,” Fregoso said.
Said Rosemead coach Louie Madrigal: “I think Justin is one of our hardest workers. By far, he had the hardest weight last year and did a phenomenal job. He wanted to show everybody that he could do it.”
Marquez wasn’t shabby, either. He was third in the 125-pound class as a junior after finishing sixth in the 119s as a sophomore.
“(Finishing third) taught me a lot because I keep on doing better every year,” Marquez said.
Both wrestlers are shooting for high goals this season. Each wants to win not only a CIF title but a state crown as well.
“My goal since I was little has been to win state,” Marquez said. “CIF is a steppingstone.”
Said Fregoso: “Winning state is a big goal of mine, probably my biggest goal, and it would mean a lot to me.”
While chasing after the individual CIF and state titles, Fregoso and Marquez hope to help Rosemead win its first CIF title since taking the Division I championship in the 2003-04 season.
The Panthers were runners-up in the Coastal Division in 2004-05 and 2005-06 before finishing eighth at the Central Division finals last year.
“The motto for Rosemead wrestling is `win the last match of the night,”‘ Fregoso said.
To accomplish that, Fregoso, a team captain on the Panthers’ football team and a first-team All-Mission Valley League selection as a junior, and Marquez are taking it upon themselves to make everyone else better.
“Justin is really in tune to what our tradition is and is a good role model for our kids,” Madrigal said. “They’re both team captains and know what’s expected of them.”
Fregoso considers himself more of a leader by example; Marquez is the more vocal of the two.
Marquez could lead by example, if needed.
“He means a lot to the team,” Fregoso said. “He’s a really good athlete, he gets the moves the first time he sees them and catches on to things fast.”
Madrigal sees a lot of potential in Marquez as well.
“He’s right up there, athletically, with almost anyone that’s come through our program,” Madrigal said. “When he puts the pedal down, he’s as tough as anyone we’ve ever had and he can wrestle against anyone in the country.”
Now a senior, Marquez remembers what it was like entering the program for the first time and to seek advice. Now he’s in the position of being able to share his vast knowledge of the sport to the underclassmen.
“It’s very important to me. We have a young team and everyone looks up to me and Justin,” Marquez said. “I was in the same spot when I came to high school.”
The Panthers’ dynamic duo is pretty inseparable and works out together as drilling partners.
“Me and Justin are always together,” Marquez said. “He’s a hard worker and he helped me get to where I’m at.
“When I need to do a drill or stay after practice, he’ll stay and help me.”
Both wrestlers would love nothing better than to finish their high school careers by collecting CIF titles together.