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Pitman’s Saavedra, Turlock’s Garcia hold their own

POSTED January 18, 2011 10:28 p.m.

In one of the major gauges of the state tournament, last weekend’s Temecula Valley Invitational allowed wrestlers from the Turlock area to go up against elite competition. Some of them did well — well enough to go home with first-place medals and respect from their peers.

In fact, one local was voted by coaches as the tournament’s top wrestler.

The take-home rewards are like carrots on a stick, as the locals are striving for the holy grail of their level: March’s CIF State Championships. Two local wrestlers captured the day’s best rewards, and that’s gold.

There wasn’t much of a surprise about what Turlock High senior Fabian Garcia was able to achieve again. The state’s second-ranked wrestler in his weight class destroyed his Temecula Valley competition. It’s a fair assessment for someone who’s shooting for the ultimate state glory.

“He pretty much dominated,” Bulldogs coach Mike Contreras said.

Garcia, a three-time state medalist who’s gearing up for another state run, went on a rampage during the two-day tournament — finishing with two pins, two major decisions and two technical falls. He wrapped up his performance with a 1-minute, 19-second fall over No. 3 Elk Grove’s Martin Ramirez in the 125-pound final.

It’s another title to another title-collecting season for Garcia. It’s been the kind of state-championship campaign that includes winning the Bulldog Classic and the Reno Tournament of Championships, with the latter being considered the toughest high school tournament in the country.

He also had a spectacular showing at the two-week-old Doc Buchanan Invitational near Fresno, where he only lost to two-time defending state champion Alex Cisneros of Selma High in triple overtime.

“I don’t think I could have gotten him a tougher schedule,” Contreras said of Garcia. “He’s getting what he needs.

He’s seeing everyone that he needs to see.”

The same case could be made for Pitman High freshman sensation Emilio Saavedra, who earned the ultimate test. He knocked off top-ranked Micah Perez of San Diego’s Central Union High in the 103 title match. Saavedra overcame a 3-0 deficit to win 4-3, tying it at 3-all before squeezing out an escape move in the final 20 seconds.

“He’s been working his butt off,” Pitman coach Adam Vasconcellos said of Saavedra. “He’s been slowly hunting down everyone in his weight class. But now that he knows he’s beaten the No. 1 guy, if he keeps working, he’ll be a state champion. He knows that.”

Other wrestlers made a good effort in last weekend’s tournament.

Wrestlers from Turlock’s opposing high schools battled for fifth place at 130, but it was Pitman’s Andrew Perez who outlasted Turlock’s Brandon Egleston and won 7-2. There’s a good chance the two will reunite this season, considering duals and local tournaments are ahead.

Not that he needed further validation, Turlock’s Garcia captured the tournament’s top individual award — the Champion of Champions award.

To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail csun@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.

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