MODESTO — With his face still covered in sweat and the bruises on his body still fresh, Pitman High senior wrestler Andrew Perez made an announcement just outside of the Gregori High gym, where this season’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division I South Championships took place on Saturday.
He did not want to wrestle Turlock High’s Brandon Egleston again.
Just minutes earlier, Perez — a state medalist from last season — battled it out with Egleston — also a state medalist — for the third time this season, with this match being the most important since a divisional title was at stake. Perez survived a late takedown to win with a 6-4 decision.
There is a possibility that the two will meet again at this weekend’s Section Masters Tournament at Stockton Arena, the final step before the CIF State Championships. The two-day event begins Friday, with the championship matches expected to begin at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
The top seven from each weight division will advance to the state meet.
Perez hopes to be one of those state qualifiers, along with being a Section champion — though there is one person he’d rather not meet again.
“It’s possible that I see him,” Perez said about Egleston, “but I hope not. I’m tired of wrestling that kid.”
Their match was one of the many highlights provided by Turlock-area wrestlers.
It was the Pitman Pride who had a stellar showing in the team standings, finishing in second place with 154.5 points, 40 behind tournament winner Golden Valley High. The Pride, however, were without standout Mario Aguirre, whose family moved out of town just before the divisional tournament. Coach Adam Vasconcellos said the final point standings would’ve stayed the same even with Aguirre — a potential tournament finalist — but his presence might’ve made things interesting.
Nonetheless, the Pride finished the two-day event with eight Section qualifiers, just one short of last season’s total that helped Pitman to its first divisional tournament title. The other Pitman individual champion was 103-pounder Emilio Saavedra, the state’s No. 1 wrestler in his weight class who pinned West High’s Juan Ulysses in just 2 minutes, 47 seconds into their title match.
The Pride had two other finalists in Marcel Vega (160) and heavyweight Matthew Teeples, as both of them ended up finishing second. Teeples, who weighs just above 200 pounds, was giving up some 50 pounds to his finals opponent, Golden Valley’s Hugo Chavez.
“I’d have liked to put more in the finals,” Vasconcellos said. “I don’t know if we would have gotten any more champions. For every guy you lose that never makes the finals, there’s one that squeaks through, like Matthew Teeples, our heavyweight. He’s only 200 pounds, but he’s beating guys who are ranked in the Section.”
The other Section qualifiers for Pitman were Tyler Klinkhammer (fourth at125), Derrick Avila (third, 135), John England (fourth, 152) and Kyle Martinez (fifth, 215). All of them know that they’re just a few wins away from the state meet.
“State is what I’m looking at, really,” said Perez, the senior who won the 130 title. “(I) try not to look past Section, but it’s my last year so I’m trying to go out with a bang.”
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