Selma wrestlers, coaches and parents are in shock after thousands of dollars worth of equipment was stolen during their biggest fundraiser of the year at Selma High School on Sunday.
Coach Robert Sepulveda said organizers arrived at Selma High to open Day 2 of their ninth annual New Year’s Bash fundraiser when they noticed their computers, cables, a printer and the Selma High public address system were gone.
The thieves struck sometime between 6 p.m. Saturday and 6 a.m. Sunday.
Although the loss was estimated at about $10,000, Sepulveda said that didn’t stop the fundraiser, which hosts 730 kids from all over the state and is touted as the “toughest youth tournament in California.”
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Personal computers from home and old equipment such as scoreboards were brought out for the last day of the tournament.
Sepulveda said it’s a devastating loss for the program, which already struggles to pay $1,800 a month to rent an old furniture building in downtown Selma to practice. The organization is fully self-funded. It paid Selma High to use the gym for the fundraiser, said Sepulveda, which was “jam-packed” through the weekend.
Police came to take a report and are supposed to be back to conduct an investigation, Sepulveda said. The youth program trains and competes for 10 months of the year and also uses the equipment for Valley leagues they belong to, like the Central Valley Youth Wrestling League.
Selma won the tournament Sunday, earning the highest score in the fundraiser’s history.
Sepulveda, who grew up in Selma wrestling, has two children on the team. He said all the kids took the loss of their equipment especially hard.
“They were really upset,” he said. “They took that aggression out on the mat.”
Sepulveda said the group will prevail.
“There’s a reason we’re the No. 1 youth program in the nation,” he said. “We’ll get back on our feet like we always do.”