By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Local wrestlers shine at Valley tournaments
Pitman wrestling
The Pitman varsity boys wrestling team finished with eight medalists, including six top-three finishes and a trio of first-place grapplers at the Mat Classic in Livermore (Photo contributed).

Area wrestling programs were in action across the Central Valley over the weekend, with several grapplers placing and earning first-place medals.

Hilmar Boys at Westside Invitational in Firebaugh — It was a career week for Hilmar’s Cody Bray from Thursday through Saturday, who represented the Yellowjackets in the 219-pound weight division at the 2024 Westside Invitational in Firebaugh. Following a first-round bye, Bray pinned all four of his opponents to earn first-place in his class.

Bray’s day began with a second period fall over James Law of San Benito. He then pinned El Capitan’s Elijah Bowden in the second round. He bested those two performances by pinning Edison’s Andru Balladarez in the first round of their semifinal match. He capped off the day by pinning Pacheco’s Xavier Flores, just beating the second period buzzer at the 5:59 mark.

Hilmar wrestling
Hilmar’s Cody Bray stood atop the 219-pound podium on Saturday after dominating all three days of the Westside Invitational in Firebaugh (Photo contributed).

Pitman Boys at 23rd Annual Mat Classic in Livermore — The Pitman boys continued to display their dominance with their showing at the 23rd Mat Classic at Granada High School in Livermore. Their team finished with eight medalists, including six top-three finishes and a trio of first-place grapplers.

First-place finishers were Troy Ceja (285), Carter Vannest (192) and Brodie Johnson (167). Meanwhile, 140-pounder Angel Villasenor and 128-pounder R.J. Wilharm each claimed second in their respective divisions. Mika Ontoveros earned third-place in the 147-pound division.

In the heavyweight class, Ceja was the last man standing after clinching a spot in the finals following three hard-fought matches in the second round, quarterfinals and semifinals. He claimed first by way of an injury default to his championship round opponent, Junaid Khan, of John F. Kennedy (Sacramento). After a bye to open the tournament, Ceja muscled his way to a 9-3 decision over Taniela Pahulu of California High (San Ramon). He then pinned Granada’s Jack Schwabenland in the first period of the quarterfinals. He had a similar showing in the semifinals against Chico’s Gabe Rodriguez, winning by fall at the 1:30 mark.

Over at 192 pounds, Vannest beat each of his four opponents by fall. He started out in the second round, pinning Denair’s Even Coronel at the 1:01 mark. It took him just 14 seconds more to pin Tracy’s Isaias Servin in the quarterfinals. In the semis, the fall came at 2:33 over Amador Valley’s Noah Awad. Granada’s Jake Blake took Vannest to the second period of the championship round, though he lasted just 55 seconds with the Pitman sophomore before getting pinned.

Like Vannest, Johnson earned four falls on his way towards the top of the 167-pound podium. After his bye, he beat California’s Jack Gamble by second period fall. He then made easier work of Granada’s Christian Taovil, earning the finish in just 58 seconds. He punched his ticket to the finals with a second period finish of Las Lomas’ Carson Hudson, before finishing Leigh’s Lucas Owczarczak in just over a minute into the action.

Pitman and Turlock Girls at D-Lo Memorial Tournament at Golden Valley — Six wrestlers, six placers for the Pride’s girls team at Golden Valley’s D-Lo Memorial girls tournament in Merced over the weekend. Of the six, three finished in the top three, which were Melanie Delgado (third, 114-126), Alina Dizon (third, 116-129) and Patty Bray (first, 114-126).

Bray’s first place effort began with a pair of falls. Her first victim was Golden Valley’s Kaira Verduzco, who was pinned at the 2:19 mark. Next up was Sophia Romero of Buhach Colony, who Bray pinned in nearly the same amount of time at 2:20. She clinched the division’s title with a 9-5 decision over Bear Creek’s Denise McCall.

Also earning top three finishes at the tournament was a trio of Turlock wrestlers — Aliah Bertalotto (third, 93-103), Leah Ladd (second, 114-129) and Lacey Hovlik (second, 116-129).

Turlock Boys at 2024 Tim Brown Memorial Tournament in Sacramento — It was rough sledding for the Turlock Bulldogs boys varsity team over the weekend up in Sacramento for the 2024 Tim Brown Memorial Tournament. The event saw some of the best programs in the state compete, including ​​Oakdale, Buchanan, Elk Grove, Folsom and Clovis North, who finished in the top five in that order.

Of Turlock’s 12 wrestlers, two placed, with 215-pounder Elijah Watson being the lone top three finisher with his third-place medal.

Despite the lack of medals, the Bulldogs still finished in 13th place out of 85 schools. It’s a big step for a program that head coach Mike Contreras described last week as “young and inexperienced,” especially as Central California Athletic League competition continues later this week.