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15 punch tickets to state wrestling tournament
Turlock wrestling Bertalotto
With a 5-1 lead against Placer’s Enzo Gallo in the championship match of the 138-pound division at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament at the Stockton Arena, Turlock senior Jeremiah Bertalotto checks the clock while maintaining his dominant position (Roman Cerna @MediaByRome).

Fifteen wrestlers from Turlock area schools will be heading to Bakersfield this week to compete at the 2024 CIF State Wrestling Championships after strong showings at last weekend’s Sac-Joaquin Section Master tournament at the Stockton Arena. 

Of the 15, 10 are wrestlers from Pitman High School, which marks a single-season program record for most qualifiers to the state tournament. Turlock High, meanwhile, will be represented by four grapplers while Hughson will send one.

Winning first place in their respective weight classes were Pitman’s Lexie Capote and Mason Ontiveros, as well as Turlock’s Jeremiah Bertalotto.

Capote claimed gold in the girls’ 105-pound division, cruising through her first three matches with pin victories. She then muscled her way to a 7-3 decision in the championship round against Jazmine Turner of Grace Davis (Modesto). With the win, Capote clinches a second trip to the state tournament and her first as a member of the Pride. After placing fourth at Masters as a sophomore with Patterson High, she failed to place at state. She then transferred to Pitman prior to last school year and was ineligible to compete due to transfer regulations. The senior shared that she has not taken any match for granted this season, and that she has learned from her past experiences in Bakersfield.

Lexie Capote
Pitman senior Lexie Capote turns to celebrate with coaches Adam and Cody Vasconcellos after winning a 7-3 decision over Grace Davis’ Jazmine Turner in the championship match of the girls’ 105-pound weight class of Saturday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament at the Stockton Arena (Photo contributed).

“When I went to state, it was just not a good year for me,” she said. “I didn't place at state, but honestly, it was just the mentality. I think I was just overlooking a lot of it…. My mindset going in this time is to just fight and do my best. (Each opponent), it's just another match. I just need to go out there and put in my all for the whole six minutes and be ready for anything.”

Ontiveros, a sophomore, has state experience of his own. Last year, he placed fifth in the 170-pound division as a freshman. He was able to qualify again this year as a 175-pounder as he dominated the first three rounds with pin victories before pulling out a 3-1 decision over Granite Bay’s Levi Bussey.

“I'm looking forward to being back there at state to try to win the whole thing,” he said. “I think the mindset has changed because I know now that with the time on the clock, you have to wrestle every second of it and keep pressuring forward and keep the guy tired. Also, when you lose a period or match, it's not the end of the world. Learn from it. Keep going and keep fighting, and you'll get it the next time. You could lose the first battle but you could win the war. I know that I have nothing to lose. I'm going to go out there and give it my all and whatever happens, happens.”

Pitman wrestling Ontiveros
Pitman sophomore Mason Ontiveros gets his hand raised after defeating Granite Bay’s Levi Bussey by a 3-1 decision in the championship match of the 175-pound weight class of Saturday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament at the Stockton Arena (Roman Cerna @MediaByRome).

A fellow first-place finisher on Saturday, the 138-pound Bertalotto also has last year’s tournament in the back of his mind. On day one of the 2023 meet, Bertalotto lost, and he failed to make it deep into the consolation rounds. The 2024 season has only brought more adversity, as he missed nearly two months of the non-conference tournament season as he was laboring injuries from football season. Nevertheless, he was able to push through Masters with a pair of falls and three decision wins.

“What I’ve learned from my past experiences at state is that it doesn’t matter who you’re going up against, it’s just who wants it more,” he said. “This season has felt really short since I’ve been out and I had to get on track a lot faster. But I feel good physically heading into this week and I can’t wait to compete into the weekend.”

The Bertalotto name will be announced plenty of times at Bakersfield's Mechanics Bank Arena as the senior will be joined by his twin brother, Isaiah, and their little sister, Aliah. Isaiah earned second place at 144 pounds while Aliah, a sophomore, placed sixth in the girls’ 100-pound division.

“It’s going to be really special to have my brother and sister compete at a high-level tournament with me,” Bertalotto said.

Other runner-up Masters finishers were Turlock’s Elijah Watson (215) and Pitman’s Baya Austin (Girls, 130), Brodie Johnson (165) and Troy Ceja (285). Johnson and Watson each powered their way through the first four rounds of their brackets with four pins. Watson ended up losing a 7-0 decision to Oakdale’s Elias Corona while Johnson was on the wrong end of a 4-3 clash with Vacaville’s Arjun Nagra. Ceja’s weekend consisted of two wins by pin and two wins by decision through his first four rounds before getting pinned by Laguna Creek’s Declan Follette in the title match.

Pitman’s Lily Dizon was able to round out the list of local top-three finishers by achieving third place in the girls’ 100-pound group. Fourth-place finishers included the Pride’s Lindsey Carolan (Girls, 140) and Hughson’s Nicholas Perez (175). This will be Perez’s third-ever trip to the state tournament. Despite having three victories by fall and two by decision through the weekend, Pitman’s Carter Vannest finished in fifth place due to losses in the quarterfinal round and in the consolation semifinal match. Teammate Xadian Padilla qualified at 157 pounds with a sixth-place finish, as did Patricia Bray in the 110-pound girls division.

The CIF State Wrestling Championships from Mechanics Bank Arena will begin at 9 a.m. Thursday with the start of the girls brackets. Boys brackets will get underway at noon. Friday at 9 a.m. will bring the beginning of consolation brackets for both boys and girls, while quarterfinals will kick off at 1 p.m. Saturday is the final day of the tournament, with the consolation brackets continuing at 9 a.m. The semifinals of the championship brackets will start at 10:30 a.m. 6:30 p.m. will be the start of the championship finals.

Livestreams of each mat can be viewed throughout the three days at For those looking to make the trip down to Bakersfield, tickets can be purchased the day of the event or in advance via the Mechanics Bank Arena Box Office and on by searching “CIF State Wrestling.”