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Denair, Delhi send 16 to Divisionals
Jesse Flores Delhi Wrestling2
Delhis Jesse Flores, pictured with Turlocks Rafael Magana during his championship run at the Rumble in the Jungle, enters todays SJS Div. V Championships as back-to-back SAL champion. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR/The Journal


Southern Athletic League competitors Denair and Delhi High finished a respective third and fourth in the overall team standings at the SAL League Tournament last weekend with both breaking  program records for divisional qualifiers.


The Coyotes qualified eleven wrestlers for the upcoming Sac-Joaquin Section Division V Championships as Samuel Davison (154) took gold, Richard Richards (140), Luis Mendoza (197) and Jared Carbajal (HVY) took silver and the field of Caesar Flores (108), Kyle Cervantes (115), Jordan Cervantes (122), Indiana Olave (126), Saul Mendoza (170), Bryson Prock (184) and Kyle Perkins (222) took bronze.


“This is the most we've had qualify,” Denair head coach Don Helnore said. “They all wrestled, even in the losses, they wrestled real tough,”


The Hawks qualified five wrestlers and also set a record for the most league champions in the process. Jesse Flores (HVY) — Delhi's first ever SAL champion — successfully defended his title while David Chaves (113) and Leo Gamino (160) placed first, too.


“The two champions at 160 and 113 pounds were very surprising,” Delhi head coach Ray Cedres said. “To get two more (champions) this year with surprising wins, and them wrestling well to win... we worked hard the last few weeks getting them a little bit better and it paid off.”


With his performance, Davison became the first Denair wrestler in two years to win a SAL championship.


“He's had some struggles this year. He started out at 170s, trying to compete in that weight class, and those guys were just too big for him,” Helnore said. “When he got to that weight class (154), he did what we felt he could do at that weight class.”


For Delhi, Flores' back-to-back championships dispelled any concerns regarding lack of mat time this season and any effects on the sophomore's plan to return to Masters.


“After seeing him wrestle in the Rumble in the Jungle, I'm kind of past that issue,” Cedres said.


But while Denair and Delhi qualified a combined 16 wrestlers, only 13 will see competition at the SJS Div. V Championships in Sonora today. Hawks champion Gamino and Coyotes Olave and Perkins will not be on the mat due to various personal circumstances. The rest of the qualifiers will hit the mats at Sonora High today as they try to move through their respective brackets and keep their season alive.


“For the seniors, it can be the last matches of their high school careers. There's no tomorrow, so you got to go out and every match has got to be your last match, basically,” Helnore said.


“Basically what I told them was, 'We're here.' This was our goal to get here, anything we do now is a bonus,” Cedres said. “Wrestle hard, wrestle well, and we'll move on.”