This season’s wrestling team has its share of wrestlers ranked among the state’s most elite, a big reason the Panthers won its fifth consecutive Big 8 Conference title and are heading into Day 2 of the state championship tournament Dec. 12 at Fresno City College.
Helping the team reach such successful heights on and off the mat this season has been red-shirt sophomore Dylan Forzani, according to City College wrestling coach David Pacheco.
“He’s one of those guy’s that through his own actions — he works hard and sets good examples,” Pacheco says. “You can see his work ethic both in the classroom situations and in the wrestling situations. He’s been a great mentor.”
And a great wrestler. Forzani is currently ranked No. 1 in the state in his weight class and finished second in voting for the Big 8 Conference Wrestler of the Year.
Growing up on a farm about 174 miles southwest of Sacramento in Salinas, California, Forzani says he was an active young kid. He began wrestling at the age of 14 at Salinas High School. Wrestling became empowering and he fell in love with the feeling he got from the sport.
“I was always a physical kid, not in a bad way, but I liked intense kinds of sports,” Forzani says.
“I loved the idea of being able to control the outcome of something against another human being,”
After graduating high school, he wanted to continue wrestling and further his education, so he narrowed down his choices and picked a school that, not only had a great wrestling program, but one that could challenge him academically.
“I wanted to wrestle for the best community college school that I could wrestle for, and Sac City was definitely in the top three,” Forzani says. “Once I heard about the great academics, because that was something that I struggled with, it was good to know I would get a lot of help in that direction.”
The transition from high school to college wasn’t smooth for Forzani, but it wasn’t wrestling that he was having trouble with — he was struggling academically. Unhappy with the way things were going, Forzani says he decided to take a step back from wrestling.
Forzani red shirted during the 2014-2015 season to focus on his schoolwork, a move that he says truly paid off.
“My first year here I struggled and was almost ineligible, then I turned everything around and got a 3.0, 3.30 and then just got a 3.0 in the summer,” Forzani says.
The Panthers 165-pounder isn’t the only student athlete to move miles from his hometown to attend City College and wrestle. Several wrestlers on the team have come from as far away as Hawaii to hit the mats at City College.
Christian Carbajal, a red-shirt sophomore from Hawaii, arrived at City College one year before Forzani. The two bonded over similar interests in extreme sports and slack-lining. Carbajal says Forzani knows it’s hard for him to be away from his family during the holidays and has gone out of his way to make him feel like he’s part of his own family.
“On Thanksgiving, I didn’t have anywhere to go and he understands, so without me even having to say anything he told me ‘You’re more than welcome to come spend Thanksgiving with me,’” Carbajal says.
That kind of close relationship has driven the success of the City College wrestling team. Forzani’s only loss in 16 events this season was to teammate, and then-fellow 157-pound wrestler Kaleio Romero. Halfway through the season the 157-pound weight class had three strong athletes so Forzani decided to move up a class to 165 pounds.
Forzani has remained undefeated since losing to Romero and moved up to another weight class. There, he captured the No. 1 rank in the state in his weight class he now holds.
After this season is over, Forzani says he would like to wrestle for a Division I school and one day go into a career as a mixed martial arts fighter.
“I’m always thinking about it. Being a wrestler, you’re a grappler and jui- jitsu is grappling just with different techniques,” Forzani says.