A total of 31 wrestlers on the boys side from Pitman (12), Turlock (8), Hilmar (5) and Hughson (6) high schools have qualified for the CIF Masters tournament this upcoming weekend after a standout performance at Divisionals. On the girls side, Turlock advanced two and Pitman three.
Turlock and Pitman competed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-II tournament and together, they saw five champions on the day out of 14 weight classes.
On the team score side, Pitman finished in second after Vacaville and Turlock took fifth.
“We came out of there a little banged up and lost to Vacaville by 10 points in the team standings, so it was really close and things didn’t go our way, but we qualified 12, that is the most important thing,” said Pitman head coach Pitman Vasconcellos.
“Took fifth as a team, which is good… and hopefully I think we are in a good position to be a top 10 team at Master’s as well, that will be good for us,” said THS head coach Mike Contreras.
Hilmar and Hughson competed in the SJS D-V tournament and ended up having two champions each.
As a team, Hilmar finished in third, while Hughson placed fourth.
“Not too bad considering there were over 30 teams,” said Hughson head coach Tony Bargas. “Thought we would have seven but six was a good number of kids to advance. We did lose one who didn’t wrestle.”
Hilmar saw five wrestlers advance to Master’s in Efrain Duenas (182), Mark LaBass (195), Steven Silva (160), Broc Perry (126) and Noble Santos (106).
Of the five, only sophomores Santos and Perry won their brackets outright with perfect records.
Perry saw an interesting route after winning four straight to reach the finals against Escalon’s Christian Rowe and beat him in a 12-5 decision.
“Broc’s preparation, he was focused on the finals, both him and Noble, saw themselves in the finals match,” said Hilmar head coach Justin Nash. “They did not look like they were worried about the finals, they were ready and excited. Perry was faster and more skilled in his finals than his opponent, he was hungrier for the chance of gold and first place and he made no mistakes. He did not allow his opponent to dictate the match.”
That same bracket also saw Hughson’s Gabe Bargas reach the semifinal where he fell to Rowe in a close, 5-4 decision, but also punched his ticket into Master’s with a 4-1 Divisionals record.
Santos’ bracket was different as he went a perfect 4-0 and won his finals match in a 5-0 shutout.
Senior Duenas went 4-0 before losing in the semifinal via fall, but earned a spot this next weekend.
LaBass reached the final in his respective weight class before falling to Calaveras’ Donivan Giangregorio after a major decision, 15-2.
In that same bracket was Hughson’s Garret Hicks, who reached the semifinal before losing to Giangregorio, but Hicks ultimately won his third-place match and advanced to Masters.
A total of 11 qualified for Hughson for Divisionals, but only 10 wrestled.
The two champions included Carson Hatch (220) and Haidyn Herrin (138).
“I think in general I was really happy with Carson at 220s winning, only second year wrestling, but Haidyn, and some of the kids that took third wrestled well, disappointing loss for Gabe, but we will move on,” said Bargas. “We learned from it and I think everyone wrestled well… we took two last year and now six this year, we are moving in the right direction.”
Sophomore Herrin went a perfect 4-0 and won his finals match, which was a rematch of the TVL final, in an 8-2 decision over Livingston’s Andrew Quijano.
Senior Hatch managed to go 4-0 himself and win the title after a 5-2 decision in the final.
At 113 pounds, Hughson’s Kaden Thornsberry also punched his ticket to Masters with a 6-1 record and took third at divisionals.
Jason Espinola (132) was the other wrestler from Hughson to advance to Master’s after he reached the semifinals and went 4-2.
For Turlock and Pitman, their road to state essentially started at Divisionals and it was a grind for both who needed top eight finishes from their wrestlers to advance to Master’s.
Following their day one of action, Pitman held first place in overall team points, with Vacaville trailing by less than 10 points, and Turlock in sixth.
On day two, things changed a bit, and the results were wild, as Pitman crowned three champions in Juan Mora (222), Tal Malhi (184) and Kendall La Rosa (162).
Mora went a perfect 4-0, and secured an 8-3 decision victory in the final.
La Rosa saw a major decision, while coach Vasconcellos said he was wrestling on a different level.
“Kendall had the guy on his back the whole time in that final,” said Vasconcellos.
Malhi ended up reaching the final and winning it after a 7-5 decision that saw the match go into overtime and end in a dramatic late takedown from Malhi. Turlock freshman Achilles Clarke took seventh in that 184-pound bracket after going 3-2.
Turlock had William Giron (128) and Adrian Heras (134) who were champions.
Senior Giron, who was No. 9 in state going in, went a perfect 4-0 and won his final match, 3-1, over the No. 7 guy in state in Eric Almarinez of Vacaville.
Turlock’s Heras, who is ranked No. 6 in state went 4-0 and beat Tracy’s Eli Blackwell in the final after a close 6-5 decision.
“His final match was tough,” said Contreras. “That kid did a good job, he reversed us, and got an escape, and might have gotten two reversals, Adrian was upset he didn’t dominate like he has, but he has to learn how to win those close matches too, he did good, sure we will see him again.”
Egberto Davalos (115) of Turlock, who qualified for Masters, also reached the final but he lost to Vacaville’s Logan Valledor in the final by decision. In that same bracket, Pitman’s Julian Rosales finished in seventh while also advancing.
Pitman’s Izzy Tubera (122) reached the final but was unable to wrestle and lost by default, but will be ready to go next week said Vasconcellos.
Aaron Lucatero (140) was another finalist for Pitman that fell in the final match by decision.
Teammate Isaiah Ontiveros (154) was the other Pride wrestler who reached the final but lost via decision. In that same bracket, Turlock’s Raza Sajjadi went 3-2 and took fifth place.
Heavyweight Emilio Gutierrez of Pitman took third and stamped his ticket to Masters. Turlock’s Ashton Patterson took seventh and also qualified for Masters.
Pitman’s John Stout (147) took fourth in his bracket, while Turlock’s Ben Watson followed up in fifth place.
Pitman’s Khalid “DJ” Ghani (172) ended up taking fourth as well in his respective bracket while advancing to this weekend's tournament.
At 108 pounds, Turlock’s Ethan Ward saw the best finish after taking third, while Pitman’s Alex Talamante finished in sixth place.
At 128 pounds, Pitman’s Conner La Rosa finished in sixth place.
“The kids did their job, qualified next week and gave themselves a chance to reach state, so trying to get top 6 to make state,” said Vasconcellos, who qualified 13 for Master’s two years ago.
“We got banged up a little this weekend. It is about staying focused, the kids are ready to do it, but it is about doing your best and giving it your best shot,” Vasconcellos added. “I think the kids are ready, and hungry, they were there early, a lot of kids want to be done, but these kids don't want to be done. They want to make it to state and get a picture of themselves up on our wall, they all want that.”
“We have eight, it's good… but we cannot complain, out of these eight only three seniors… five coming back and that’s good,” Contreras added.
On the girls side, Turlock advanced two while Hailey Ward (103) won her fourth straight divisional title with a 4-0 record at the Southern Sac-Joaquin Section tournament from Central Valley High this past weekend. Ward is looking to win her fourth straight Master’s.
Mia Lopez (191) also qualified for Master’s after she took sixth.
For Pitman, Lilly Freitas (150) won her bracket outright, while Lilly Avalos (106) also took first and Alana Ontiveros (137) finished in second.
As a team, Pitman took seventh out of 47 teams while all three advanced to Master’s.
The CIF Master’s Meet for girls and boys will take place from Stockton Arena and run two days, starting at 9 a.m. Friday.