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Perez makes history for Pride wrestling as state runner up
Three medals for Turlock High
State 1
Pitmans Isaiah Perez (220) made history for the Pride after he became the first wrestler in program history to finish as the state runner-up and the first to make the state final. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal

A total of four medals were awarded to four wrestlers from Pitman and Turlock High at this past weekend’s California Interscholastic Federation Tournament. 

However, after the two-day extravaganza ended, Pitman’s Isaiah Perez (220) had stolen the show among the four locals remaining after he made a run into the history books by becoming the first state finalist and first runner-up in school history, marking him as the most accomplished in the Pride’s program.

“It feels pretty good to have come all this way from being 1-2 at state freshman year to becoming Pitman’s first state finalist my senior year,” said Perez. “It feels good to have put in all that work to accomplish so much.”

“Obviously we wanted to win a state title with Isaiah, but I think all of our guys wrestled well,” said Pitman head coach Adam Vasconcellos.

Pitman also finished in 16th place as a team in the state tournament, scoring 48 points, the highest of any prior Pride wrestling squad. Turlock finished in 20th place as a team for the tourney with 36.5 points.

Turlock also tied their highest finish since 2004-05, with three medals.

“Fourth time in team history with three medals, which tied the record. We never had four, but three medals four times,” said Turlock head coach Mike Contreras. “Obviously can’t complain… league champions and nobody scored even 20 points on us, so pretty much rolled through all that and then overall, pretty darn good.”

Turlock’s three qualifiers all ended up placing eighth or better.

Will Giron (106) placed eighth after going 4-3, losing two of those matches by one point to the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, respectively.

Breck Jeffus (182) of Turlock ended up going 3-3, while also earning a medal with an eighth-place finish.

Heavyweight Mike Jeffus ended up with the best finish for all Turlock High wrestlers, in fifth, with a 6-2 record.

“We didn’t win any of our tournaments, but can’t complain, finished top 20 in state,” said Contreras. “Our kids did a super job. With the success it took the whole team to be there and win the dual meets and advance nine to masters and getting five medals at masters and three more medals at state. It was also really important to win CCC title since it was the last year. It was a big deal.”

For Pitman, Perez was the staple and only one left after the morning session on Saturday.

Kendall La Rosa (145) and Brendan Tallent (195) were both eliminated and ended their run with a 3-2 record apiece.

Perez went on to win his semifinal match convincingly which propelled him into the finale against Joey Daniel of Santa Ana.  From there, the match started at 0-0 until he got caught and went down 5-0. Daniel was called for stalling twice, and time ran out for Perez, ending the match at 5-2.

Perez becomes the first finalist for Pitman in the program’s history and ended the tournament with a 5-1 record.

“My last match didn’t go as planned. I was hoping for a better outcome, but I made a mistake early on in the match and wasn’t able to recover,” said Perez. “If I would have just corrected some things and had a more thought out plan I think I would have performed a lot better than I did, but what’s done is done and I have to just keep moving forward and be ready to compete at the next level next year.”

Perez will be attending Fresno State in the fall on a full-ride scholarship for wrestling.

Perez, who qualified for state all four years, went 1-2 his freshman year, then followed it with a 3-2 record at state during his sophomore stint.

Last year he managed to take fourth in the 170-pound bracket before closing out his career at Pitman in second.

“What prepared me was training hard and competing at some of the best national tournaments before the season started like Super 32 in North Carolina and Freak Show in Las Vegas and Flo Reno Worlds in Reno,” said Perez who also won the Master’s Tournament this year.

Pitman returns eight masters qualifiers for next season, including two of the four state qualifiers in La Rosa and Sammy Silveira (132).

“Our youth program is rolling, but we have 50 plus and will finally have some youth kids when they come up,” said Vasconcellos. “Once they kick in, the next four to five years our program will take a huge leap forward.”