Turlock High is sending five wrestlers to this weekend’s California Interscholastic Federation State Championships in Bakersfield after a fifth place team finish at the San Joaquin Section Masters Tournament on Saturday.
Saturday marked the fifth time Turlock has finished fifth in the section and only the second time it’s had five state qualifiers since head coach Mike Contreras took over the program.
“There were some tough teams, so it’s quite the accomplishment,” Contreras said. “It was an awesome performance and I’m very proud of the boys. Hopefully they can replicate that this weekend in Bakersfield.”
Making the trip will be Rafael Herrera (128), Ricardo Garcia (222), Isaac Bertalotto (134), Albino Orozco (162), and Rickey Flores (287). Herrera walked away from Masters with a second place finish, Garcia with a third place finish, Bertalotto with a fourth place finish, and Orozco and Flores with a fifth place finish.
Bertalotto is the only Bulldog making a return to State, an impressive feat considering he’s only a sophomore. But Turlock’s most impressive performances belonged to Herrera, who placed 8th at last season’s Masters, and Garcia, who didn’t place at all last season.
Herrera made his way to the tournament final with three straight pins and a 4-2 semi-final victory over Sean Brown of Granite Bay High, who was ranked 11th in the state. Herrera finally met his match in Bella Vista High’s Victor Trujillo who pinned the Bulldog in the first period.
“If he wrestled him again I think we could go all six minutes,” Contreras said of Trujillo.
As for Garcia, Turlock’s big man went 5-1, losing his only match against the number one ranked Jordan Sepeda of Natomas High, 4-3, before defeating Zach Fallentine of Los Banos High for the bronze medal.
“He’s very strong and he’s definitely one of the most improved kids,” Contreras said of Garcia.
The first day of the State Championships will begin on Friday with those lucky enough to advance competing in the final day on Saturday.
“The mindset is five medals but we’ll see what happens,” Contreras said. “I’m feeling like these guys are going to have a great performance for Turlock.”
“But I don’t see a lot of easy wins happening so we need to be ready to go,” he added.
Pitman High entered the Masters tournament with five wrestlers but failed to qualify for state, finishing with one medaling wrestler, Lorenzo Lewis (122) who placed 8th.
Hilmar High was also in the mix at Masters with two wrestlers, Antonio Melo (184) and Mathew LaBass (170), who finished 1-2 and 2-2, respectively.