It spread like a wildfire.
Turlock High wrestlers ignited a thrilling first day of the California Interscholastic Federation State Wrestling Champions with seven first day wins at the Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield on Friday. Erick Parsons (170 pounds) blazed a path to the championship quarterfinals to qualify for today's top-12 finale while Isaac Bertalotto (132) and Ernesto Guiang (195) burned consolation bracket opponents for five total victories. Jason Valdovinos was 0-2 at 113 pounds.
"I am proud of the way these guys worked this season to get to the point where they are at now," Turlock coach Mike Contreras said. "These kids did a super job at this tournament."
Parsons bested Juan Valladares of Madera South in a one-sided tourney opener in 9-0 fashion. A round later, he qualified for the quarterfinals with an overtime takedown of North Coast Section champ Dylan Morris of Redwood. The win propelled Parsons to a shot at the state semifinals, where he slipped to a 7-4 defeat against Poway's Connor King, the No. 5 ranked wrestler in the state (The California Wrestling Newsletter). The loss did little to deter the Turlock senior's ambition for a state medal.
"I am going to come in tomorrow knowing what I want to do," Parsons said. "It's a goal I am going to achieve."
Bertalotto, who was just seventh at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters a week ago, impressed the state field with three straight triumphs in the consolation bracket while facing elimination. He surpassed Abe Halterman of Atascadero, then snuck past North Section runner-up Jesse Chambers of Chico in a tight 2-0 win a round later. Bertalotto kept his tournament medal hopes alive with a 5-1 win over Andre Cabrera of Laguna Hills, but was eliminated in Friday's final round by Timmy Maldonado of Los Osos. Maldonado, a No. 3 seed and senior from the highly regarded Southern Section, had to land a takedown in overtime to stop Turlock's third freshmen state qualifier in school history. Bertalotto (47-12 overall) knew his state run was a good one.
"It's a little overwhelming," Bertalotto admitted afterwards. "It feels good but I think I could have done even better."
Guiang bounced back from a pin loss in his first round match with consecutive decisions to reach the third round of consolation. He dominated Luis Placido of Madera South with a 6-0 shutout, then edged cagy Los Angeles Section champ, Josue Monroe, in a triumphant third match to stay alive. Monroe chose the bottom position in hopes of eliminating the one-point deficit in the third round, but was unable to escape Guiang's grip. The Turlock junior was dispatched by Jack Murphey of Frontier a round later, but managed a 37-14 overall finish to his season after an even stanza at state.
"I had someone ahead of me when I was a freshman and I didn‘t make grades last year, so this was my first postseason," Guiang said. "I didn't think I was going to exceed my expectations but I did."
Valdovinos had trouble with returning state medalist Mason Pengilly of Porterville in his first match, and ultimately fell in a 13-0 major decision. A consolation bye advanced him to the second round of consolation, where Long Beach Poly standout A.J. McKee stayed busy despite an early takedown from Valdovinos. McKee rallied behind late points to secure a 5-3 victory and end the Turlock junior's season. Valdovinos finished the year at 40-16, having nabbed his second straight section medal in two seasons and his first ever trip to the big show.
"It wasn't what I expected," Valdovinos said. "I thought it was going to be a little easier, but I got put out in two matches.
"The wrestling season isn't too fun when you are working hard all year, but to get this far is a good feeling."
Parsons will begin today's final day of tournament action at 9 a.m. If he wins just one match, he is guaranteed a top-8 medal.