The Southern Athletic League wrapped up the regular season for prep wrestling on Saturday with the SAL League Tournament at Big Valley Christian High.
For the wrestlers of Delhi and Denair High, whose programs have struggled with low numbers in recent years, Saturday’s tournament was a step up competitively as the Hawks advanced six wrestlers to the Divisional round—two of which are alternates—and the Coyotes advanced nine wrestlers—five of which are alternates.
For Delhi, six wrestlers is the most it’s ever moved onto the finals, but that wasn’t the Hawks' only great accomplishment of the day. The Hawks also crowned their first ever SAL champion as freshman Jesse Flores took the heavyweight title with his championship round defeat of senior Ryan Perez of Mariposa High.
“It means everything for us,” Delhi head coach Ray Cedres said of Flores’ win. “He’s also the first undefeated wrestler we’ve had, too. He’s pretty much the talk of the Southern League right now.”
“We’ve put more in Divisionals—and more people into the league finals—than the last four years combined,” Cedres added.
Delhi also fielded three second-place finishes—German Orozco (113), Scorpio Martinez (138) and Roudel Samuel (160).
“We were excited coming into this year because of the amount of wrestlers we had, and their hard work paid off,” Cedres said. “It’s a great feeling. It all goes to them, they bought into the program to get here. I’m real proud of them.”
Denair did not finish with any individual champions, but it did walk away from the tournament with four second-place finishers—Indiana Olave (126), Richard Richards (145), Saul Mendoza (195), and Luis Mendoza (220).
Alternates for Delhi include Thomas Cano (182) and Giovanni Samuel (220) while Brendes Curnow (106), Kyle Prock (120), D’Mitir Maciel (132), Brant Van Fleet (138), and Joe Gallardo (160) round out the alternates for Denair.
Now, the advancing Hawk and Coyote wrestlers must prepare for the upcoming Division V Tournament, which will be held at Delhi on Friday and Saturday. It is the first tournament to ever be hosted at Delhi.
“Getting to host a tournament, that’s two (steps) below state is huge for us,” Cedres said. “It’s going to be a tough road for us, but us getting there is half the battle.”