Turlock High has dusted off its wrestling gear and is back on the mat for the 2014 winter season. After finishing third in the Central California Conference last year and graduating two state qualifiers, the Bulldogs return with a handful of experienced wrestlers and a crop of fresh faces as they aim to take league and return to state once again.
“We’re young, we’re going to be inexperienced in some of the other spots, but these kids are hungry. They have good guys to follow if they work hard and stick with the program,” Turlock head coach Mike Contreras said.
The top Bulldog in the wrestling room this year is undoubtedly senior Isaac Bertalotto who, after placing 8th in the State Tournament as a sophomore, was sidelined for most of his junior year with a knee injury.
“Expectations are high. I know Isaac wants to be a state champion, so we’re working every day,” Contreras said. “There seems to be no restriction on that knee at all. Hopefully he has a successful season.”
Joining Bertalotto in terms of leadership are Fabian Gaona, Shawn Souza, Brady Egleston and Andre Orozco, who all qualified for the Master’s Tournament last year.
“The senior leadership of Bertalotto and Gaona is going to be huge for our guys,” Contreras said. “And with Souza, Orozco and Egleston, those three guys underneath are the core of our team. And that’s right in the middle of our lineup, so that’s where we’re going to be strongest.”
Turlock officially begins its season campaign on Wednesday when its varsity team hosts Madera High. CCC competition begins on Jan. 7 with a home match against Buhach Colony High.
“We know it’s going to be tough. Pitman and Golden Valley, and even Merced — the CCC’s just the toughest league in this area as far as wrestling goes,” Contreras said of his team’s quest for a league title. “We know we have our hands full.”