The History of Sunnyvale Wrestling Club
The Sunnyvale Wrestling Club was the only club in town in 1996, when I was an 8th grader. A couple of key people made that club possible at the time and basically they all revolved around Vince Baza. Vince was a Fremont High School coach for 20 years ending in 2001. The Sunnyvale Wrestling Club was homage to Vince’s high school wrestling program, the Sunnyvale High School Jets. Steve McKeown, a Sunnyvale High grad and NCI finalist, coached the Jets. Steve went on to help with the middle school programs and at Fremont, with Vince. Along with Steve, Gabe Palacio assisted Vince.
Ed Baza, Vince’s brother, was also a big part of the early Sunnyvale Wrestling Club days. Ed, a 2x NCAA DI All-American at San Jose State as well as a CCS placer for Sunnyvale HS, coached throughout the late 1990s with Vince at Fremont and with the club. Annette Schreckengost was another big contributor to the success of the club. After approximately 20 years of providing wrestling opportunities to Sunnyvale’s youth the Sunnyvale Wrestling Club had members who had gone on to wrestle in college and had competed and placed at the highest levels of high school wrestling.
Standouts Bobby Soto and Oliver Salud had gone from the club to compete at the college level. Soto wrestled at CSU Bakersfield and Salud wrestled at UC Davis. When Vince was ready to move on from Fremont High Soto was the natural choice to take over the team. In the summer of 1999 the team went to the CSUB Team Competition Camp and the announcement was made that Soto would be taking over for the 1999 – 2000 season. With Soto as the head coach, Vince and Ed Baza assisting, the FHS Wrestling team finished 2nd in the SCVAL and 6th in the CCS with 3 state qualifiers in Soto’s 1st season. Soto would go on to have his first CIF State placer the following year, Ed’s son Anthony Baza finished 5th in state in 2001.
With Soto at the helm he partnered up with Salud, Gabe Palacio, Paul Escalera, and Erik Duus, to form Wrestler Nation in 2004. Wrestler Nation quickly became one of the premier clubs in the Bay Area and helped push Fremont to a 3rd in the state finished with 3 state champions in 2006. The club also boasted several National Team members and Freestyle and Greco All-Americans. By 2009 the partners began moving in the separate directions and the focus moved to building the local community in Sunnyvale. In 2011 Sunnyvale Wrestling Club was re-founded and applied for non-profit status under the leadership of Erik Duus, Bobby Soto, and Daniel McCune who are all on campus teaching at Fremont High School.