Hilmar and Hughson high schools dominated the Trans-Valley League Wrestling Championships on Saturday from the Yellowjackets’ gym after the schools finished in first (217) and second (188) place, respectively, while they advanced a total of 25 to the Divisional round.
In the Southern League Tournament from Big Valley Christian this past Saturday, Denair advanced two wrestlers into Divisionals.
“We crushed it; I am ecstatic with minimal injuries and guys came in with good heads on their shoulders ready to make good decisions,” said Hilmar head coach Justin Nash. “We are solid and training for Masters… we looked at the one behind us and looked at it as a hurdle not an obstacle, and Masters as well... It is a hurdle not an obstacle… our whole emphasis was for Masters and doing the best with what we’ve got.”
“We had seven in the finals and four champions, so we didn’t do too bad,” said Hughson head coach Tony Bargas. “We had a couple freshmen that didn’t quite perform like they were supposed to, but overall I think we wrestled pretty well.”
Nash, who also won the TVL Coach of the Year honors in his first year, also helped lead his team to their third Sac-Joaquin Section (D5) team dual championship, but the goal this year has always been bigger.
“We focused on meditation as well and focused on changing tactics, and not changing too much but introducing the mental changes and meditation,” said Nash.
Hughson and Hilmar squared off in three finals matches on Saturday.
Hughson’s Justin Hensley (147) defeated a hobbling William Sousa (Hilmar) who tweaked his leg off a cradle, and was then pinned in the second.
Hilmar’s Mark LaBass (197) beat Hughson’s Garrett Hicks in a 6-0 decision, in the final of their weight class.
“Mark went out and wrestled tough like he has all year,” said Hilmar coach Travis Maynard. “Undefeated still and he got an early takedown against a tough wrestler. In the second he got bottom, gets a reversal and in the third it is 4-0, and gets another takedown, score of 6-0 and dominated a tough wrestler.”
Haidyn Herrin (140) was the other champion for Hughson.
“We have always been a better individual team, since we can barely keep a full lineup, and then we had some upsets in the final with Justin and Haidyn,” said Bargas. “We have 11 guys move on and that is the most we have moved on for a while. I think we could have wrestled a little better but I think we got a little stage fright with some of the matches, but overall, I am happy since we get to Divisionals and we will see how those performances go and where we go from there. It is nice to have almost the entire full room still wrestling at this time of the year, I am excited for it, we will see what happens, and I will get them ready.”
Hilmar advanced all 14 wrestlers to Divisionals, saw eight finalists, crowned three champions and had five second place finishes.
Efrain Duenas (182) of Hilmar dominated his match after he wrestled fast and strong. He finished with a first-round pin after there were 42 seconds remaining.
Hilmar’s Ezra Duenas (122), Steven Silva (160) and Trace Van Guilder (HWY) each took second place, respectively.
“Without Wyatt Carter and Travis Maynard, who have been in the room all year as assistants, we could not be here without them,” Nash added. “Both have full-time jobs and full-time students at MJC and both wrestling for MJC. MJC’s coach is good that he came down and saw his boys do work.”
The Denair wrestlers who advanced included junior Cotis Martinez (138) and sophomore Connor Prock (152), both of whom placed 3rd from the Southern League tournament this past Saturday.
“Connor Prock has been wrestling for five years. Cotis Martinez has been wrestling for 12 years and they both won their 3rd place match,” said Denair head coach Jorge Ruelas.
The Sac-Joaquin Section Division-V tournament will take place from Rosemont High, starting at a time yet to be determined, on Friday and ending Saturday.