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6 Bulldogs, 3 Pride to compete in Div. I semi-finals
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Turlocks Jason Valdovinos locks in a cradle against Christian Portillo of Oak Ridge moments before his first round pin during Fridays CIF SJS Divisional I Championship Tournament. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

Both Turlock and Pitman have eight wrestlers competing in day two of the Sac-Joaquin Section Divisional Tournament, held at Pitman High today. Six Bulldogs and three Pride grapplers are headed into the semi-finals; not too bad, but for Turlock coach Mike Contreras it could have been better.

"It was a pretty tough tournament for our guys," he said after day one.

Turlock entered Friday's tournament fresh off its eighth league championship in the past 11 years with 12 wrestlers. At the end of the day, Turlock was in 5th place as a team with 98 points.

Turlock wrestlers headed into the semi-finals are: Jason Valdovinos (115), Rafael Herrera (128), Isaac Bertalotto (134), Dylan White (140), Ricardo Garcia (222), and Ricky Flores (287).

Turlock's Albino Orozco (162) will be competing in the consolation round for a chance at third place; and Evan Estrada (184) will try for ninth place.

The Pride had 11 wrestlers competing on their home turf, and ended day one in eighth place with 58.5 points.

Pitman wrestlers competing in the semi-finals today are:  Nick Valadez (134), Logan Wolfley (154), and Nick Roditis (222).

The Pride's Haydon Mattox (115) and Lorenzo Lewis (122) will compete in the consolation round; and Gilbert Valadez (128), Kudakwashe Gwasira (162) and Vincent Perez (197) will vie for ninth place in their respective classes.

The match to watch today will be between Pitman's Nick Valadez (134 pounds) and Turlock's Bertalotto. Valadez made it into the semi-final round after a close 6-5 decision over Jason Bergquist of Folsom and then a 6-2 decision over Cesar Chavez' Angel Gonzalez.

Bertalotto stormed through his day one competition with an 8-2 decision over Elk Grove's Tirrell Turner and then pinning Ponderosa's Colin Hustrulid in 3:09.

At 140 pounds, Turlock's White came into his own on Friday notching two pins (in 3:45 and 1:52, respectively) to face off against Folsom's Mason Koshiyama in the semi-finals today. And Pitman's Logan Wolfley continued his record of dominance with two technical fall victories of Emery Doss of Monterey Trail (18-1) and Rossin Erbe of Pleasant Grove (15-0).

If both Garcia from Turlock and Roditis from Pitman are victorious today in their respective 222 pound matches, it will mean a crosstown matchup for the Division title.

While still early in the post-season, Contreras is optimistic about his wrestlers' chances of making a run to the State Tournament next month.

"I have high expectations for our kids...I think all seven (who have so far qualified for Masters) have a really strong chance to qualify for State," he said.


Hilmar wrestling moving on

All seven of the Hilmar High wrestlers who competed in the Trans Valley League Tournament qualified for divisionals — an impressive feat. Five of those seven will continue their seasons today; with two competing in the semi-finals, and hopefully a shot at a championship at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V Tournament, being held at Lindhurst High in Marysville.

Antonio Melo, who notched two pins on Friday, and Matt LaBass will be competing in the semi-finals today.

"Victor Verissimo was the biggest surprise of the day, making it to the second round," said Hilmar head coach Bruce Scott on Friday.

Today's round will be a mixed bag for Hilmar.

"Some are in good position, while others have their work cut out for them," said Scott.