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3 local wrestlers earn D-1 titles
15 move on to Masters
Pitman wrestling pic
Pitmans Nick Roditis smothers his opponent during his SJS Division I championship win in the 220-pound division on Saturday. - photo by Photo contributed by Cheryl Wolfley

Action resumed on the mat this past Saturday for Turlock and Pitman High in day two of the Division I Sac Joaquin Section tournament at Franklin High.

Of the eight Pride wrestlers who competed in the second day of tournament competition, only one — Nick Roditis (222) — came away with a championship, but all will move onto Masters.

“Our kids did pretty well; we had matches we won but you can’t be perfect. The guys who lost in the semifinal bounced back,” Pitman head coach Adam Vasconcellos said.

The Bulldogs had two wrestlers sweep their weight brackets and earn championships. Turlock seniors Rafael Herrera (128) and Albino Orozco (172) both went 4-0 to take the titles in their respective weight classes.

Turlock's Sean Souza (140) and Fabian Gaona (134) finished in eighth place after sustaining injuries. Albert Gonzalez (HWY) topped out in sixth. Andres Orozco (145) placed fifth and Brady Egelston was fourth. All Bulldog wrestlers qualified to move to the Masters tournament.

“We have new guys. It’s a new year and guys who have never been here before, but they all tried hard,” Turlock head coach Mike Contreras said. “Rafael [Herrera] had the most impressive performance, while Albino [Orozco] was very solid and controlled his matches.”

Herrera went into Saturday's tournament with a mission in mind.  As a sophomore he won the Division title, but came up short last year as a junior in a tight match.  After losing to Franklin High’s Josh Villaflor back in December, Herrera was prepared to take on the task once again. This time around, Herrera was feeling a lot better and it showed as he pinned Villaflor with under a minute left in the match to secure the D-I title in the 128-pound weight class.

“I feel everyone peaks later in the year and I felt stronger and better, at the beginning I was sluggish,” Herrera said. “I was pretty happy, he [Villaflor] beat me earlier this year, but I knew I could beat him. I had a game plan going in, I just needed to keep him down and I caught him.”

Next for Herrera will be a seat in the Masters, which begins this upcoming weekend.

“I am just going to take every match at a time and keep on doing what I do, pushing and pressing forward and work with my pace, that’s my game plan,” Herrera said about moving on to Masters.

Orozco won the 172-pound class title for the second year in a row via a 5-4 decision. This was the third time he competed in the D-I section championship.

It was a closer match than it first appeared for Orozco. He was up 5-1 in the closing minutes, but his opponent was not down for the count as he was able to score three points. Orozco was able to hold him off to secure the victory, however.

“It was my second time winning. I knew what to be expecting. I came out and wrestled the way I should,” Orozco said.

Pitman had a total of eight wrestlers move into the semifinals in Saturday's tournament, Hayden Mattox (122) defaulted and placed sixth while Lorenzo Lewis (126) also placed sixth. Nick Valadez (134) took third and Gilbert Valadez (140) placed fourth. Quentin Hernandez (152) topped out in fourth place and Logan Wolfley (160) and Eric Bejaran (HWY) both took third.

Roditis saw a tough final matchup in the 222-weight class, but he came away with the 3-1 decision. All seven, including Roditis, will be moving on to Masters.

“It was pretty impressive even though we had only one winner,” Vasconcellos said. “Next week is the crazy tournament, because we don’t know who is going to win or anything, we will test everybody’s ability it will be an exciting weekend for us.”

Pitman took fourth place overall in the tournament and Turlock finished in eighth place.

Masters is set to begin at 9 a.m. Friday at the Stockton Arena with over 32 competitors in a single weight class. The top seven will qualify for the state tournament.

“I think it’s going to take a lot of mental preparation and I need to have a plan of attack before going out there, usually when I don’t have a plan it gets sloppy so I will have that plan and should work out fine,” Orozco said about this upcoming Masters tournament.