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Bulldog wrestling claims league title, sends 12 to Divisionals
Pride to send 11
wrestling pic1
Turlock's Isaac Bertalotto grapples with Atwaters Angel Aguilar during the first round of Thursdays CCC League Tournament. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

The Turlock High wrestling team entered Thursday’s Central California League Tournament with heaping confidence. The Bulldogs had already bested their league foes through a string of duals, leaving one day of competition between them and an outright CCC Championship.

But what started as a tournament of formality quickly transformed into a different day all together. An unexpected injury sidelined Ricco McCombs at 122 pounds before a disputed weigh-in with an uncertified scale prevented Brady Egleston from competing at 108 pounds. Just like that, two of Turlock’s most consistent wrestlers were out of the tournament.

“It was disappointing, but we went about our business the same way,” Turlock’s head coach Mike Contreras said.

For Turlock wrestling, that business is winning.

Even with the absence of McCombs and Egleston, Turlock rolled through the majority of its opponents. Eight Bulldogs advanced to the final round where Jason Valdovinos (113), Rafael Herrera (128), and Ricardo Garcia (220) finished first.

Five Bulldogs finished in second place—Isaac Bertalotto (134), Albino Orozco (160), Evan Estrada (184), Luis Flores (197), and Ricky Flores (287)—while Dylan White (140) and Jack Eyre (170) finished in third place.

Turlock also had a pair of fourth place finishers in Nick Gutierrez (108) and Alex Gutierrez (122) who stepped up from JV to take the place of Egleston and McCombs.

“He earned some valuable points for us that we needed in the biggest way,” Contreras said of Alex Gutierrez.

The team effort earned Turlock an outright CCC title with 220 team points, less than four points away from second place Golden Valley High. Turlock will now enter Divisionals with 12 wrestlers.

“Coming in we knew we should dominate, but circumstances changed that a bit,” Contreras said. “Every single point counted for us.”

The day’s victory was bitter sweet, however, as it also signaled the end for Egleston’s season that was expected to extend well into the post-season.

“He had a good season as a freshman, but it’s a sad way to end his season,” Contreras said.

Valdovinos and Herrera both put in impressive performances and nabbed valuable bonus points with Valdovinos recording a pin and a technical fall and Herrera recording three pins, all in the first period.

Thursday’s win gave Turlock its eighth CCC Championship in the past 11 years.

“That’s our goal from the very beginning,” Contreras said. “They should be commended. We’ve demanded a lot from them and it paid off.”

Hosts Pitman High also had success on the mat.

The Pride advanced three wrestlers to the final round where Hayden Mattox (113) and Nick Roditis (220) finished in second place and Logan Wolfley (152) took first for his second consecutive CCC league title.

Lorenzo Lewis (120), Gilbert Valadez (128), and Nick Valadez (132) finished in third place while Erick Ruezga (140), Quentin Hernandez (145), Quda Gwasira (160), Jagjit Johal (172), and Vincent Flores (195) finished in fourth place. In all, Pitman will send 11 wrestlers to Divisionals which will also be held at Pitman on Feb. 15 and 16.

“This is what we were expecting and hoping for and it’s what we got,” Pitman’s assistant coach Chris Wolfley said. “Sometimes the kids peak at the right time and these kids are in great shape.”

Thursday’s performance landed Pitman in the third spot with 155 team points.