Wrestling season is over for all but one of Pitman High’s four State representatives after day one of the CIF State Championships. Though they entered Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield with the same podium dreams as teammate Angel Velasquez, Pride wrestlers Isiah Perez (113), Adam Velasquez (120) and Gilbert Valadez (145) will be fulfilling supporting roles today after being eliminated from the State Tournament on Friday.
The sophomore Velasquez (120) finished with the best record of the bunch as he split his four matches, 2-2. After dropping his first match to Chris Deloza of Clovis North High, 0-7, Velasquez bounced back with a pair of wins in the consolation rounds against Johnny Arreola of La Sierra High and Bailey Mora of Pleasant Valley with respective scores of 4-2 and 6-4.
“Adam wants to medal at everything. He’s walking behind his older brother, he’s got a huge shadow, and Adam’s on pace to be something really special,” Pitman high head coach Adam Vasconcellos said.
Unlike in the first round where Velasquez (120) was hard-fought to finish his shots and outmuscle Deloza, his second and third matches saw the sophomore hit several double leg takedowns and a single leg sweep to earn the wins. Velasquez’s plan to earn a State medal ran into a snag in his fourth match of the day, or rather the knee of his opponent, Andres Lopez of San Fernando High, ran into his eye. The contact in the 0-0 match split Velasquez (120) and forced him to go to the training area where he received five stitches on-site before returning to the match. With fresh stitches in his flesh and blood dripping from his wound, Velasquez (120) trailed by one point near the end of the third period. His attempt at a takedown was stuffed, however, and he was eliminated via a score of 2-5.
“The last match we wrestled, I think we wrestle that match 10 times and we win a majority of them.” Vasconcellos said.
Pitman’s other underclassman, the freshman Perez, also experienced success on the mat with a 1-2 record. Perez, who was overpowered by his first-round opponent Javier Alaniz of Clovis West High in a 2-8 loss, had his best performance of the day against Ray Carrol of Santa Teresa High in which he displayed his ability in all three facets of the game – on his feet, on the bottom and on top. Perez beat Carrol, 3-0, to set up a match with Reece Galvan of Palm Dessert High. As was the case in the first round, however, Perez was outmuscled by the junior Galvan and was eliminated via a score of 5-11.
“It’s all about getting over humps,” Vasconcellos said. “He’s got his first win under his belt. He’s a young kid and he hasn’t matured, his body hasn’t matured yet. The kid’s just a stud. He’s a tough kid and winning a match here is a big deal.”
While Velasquez (120) and Perez wrestled several matches on Friday, Valadez was relegated to only two. The Pride senior was matched with Francis Connor of Buchannan High, ranked fifth in the state, in the first round where he wrestled a tough, 2-3 loss.
After entering the second period with the score knotted 0-0, Valadez and Connor found themselves looking for the other to make a mistake. Connor seized an opening at the tail end of the second period when he took Valadez’s back during a scramble. Valadez closed the gap and pulled within a point of his opponent in the third period after he was awarded a stall point, but he was unable to complete his takedown attempts and was sent to the consolation rounds.
“That first match is 3-2; we have a chance to get a takedown at the end against the number five guy in the state of California. You know if we can finish a takedown there, maybe we upset the guy and we’re in the quarterfinals like that kid is now,” Vasconcellos said.
Valadez followed his match with Connor with a 0-8 loss to Michael Klee of Cardinal Newman High.
“I know he’s disappointed and he wanted more, but Gilbert has done everything he possible could and he wrestled well,” Vasconcellos said.