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Pride roll to fourth Div. II Section banner
Bulldogs fall short of Div. 1 title
Pitman wrestling
Pitman High wrestlers, coaches, administration and family members filled the mats on Saturday at Lincoln High School in Stockton to pose proudly with their latest Sac-Joaquin Section banner (Photo contributed).

For the second time in the last three years and the fourth time in school history, the Pride of Pitman High are Sac-Joaquin Section Division II Team Dual champions, and they did it in dominant fashion. In their three duals against Stagg, Linden and Tracy, the Pride and their roster of eight freshmen outscored their opponents by a combined total of 193 to 33.

“It feels awesome,” said Pitman head coach Adam Vasconcelos. “Our team stepped up. We have a young group of kids, so for this freshman class to get us a Section championship their first year out, it's pretty exciting.”

In their opening dual against Stagg, the Pride cruised to a 71-12 victory. They followed it up with a 56-9 win over Linden in their second round dual. To cap off the day, they rolled to a 66-12 win against Tracy to clinch the title. The final dual saw three consecutive first period pin wins for the Pride thanks to Elijah Austin (152), Carter Vannest (160) and Mason Ontiveros (170).

Vasconcelos said that each dual was so dominant for the team, nearly every wrestler who competes had at least one win. Regardless, he believes that freshman Baya Austin and her performances were some of the major highlights.

“Baya Austin is our 125-pounder and she went out and got it done this weekend going 2-0, including a pin in the last dual. She’s one of the freshmen competing in our varsity lineup, and I’m really proud of what she was able to accomplish at this level,” he said.

The Section win comes just one week after the Pride lost in a thrilling CCAL championship matchup over crosstown rival Turlock High. Vasconcelos explained that the loss was something that his team was able to put behind them quickly as they began to channel their emotions towards the Section tournament.

“Everything that could go wrong for us against Turlock did go wrong, whether it was losing the coin flip or having a couple guys out with injuries. All that considered, we still only lost by three points, and they’re in Division I, so we knew we had what it takes to dominate in our Section,” he said.

Over in the Division I bracket, Turlock High stopped just short of raising a blue banner of their own after falling to this year’s No. 1 seed and defending champion Vacaville in the second round.

In the first round, the Bulldogs found success against Folsom, as they won 8 of 14 matches for a 40-33 win. Winners were Isaiah Bertalotto (145) via fall, Logan Ladd (152) via major decision, Dominick Luna (160) via fall, Curby Dimond (170) via fall, Elijah Watson (195) via decision, Logan Duke (285) via fall, Ethan Ward (126) via decision and Jeremiah Bertalotto (138) via fall.

Against Vacaville, they Bulldogs were only able to secure three match wins in their 56-13 loss. The wins came via two decisions from the Bertalotto brothers and Ward via fall.

“We finished our dual season with a 10-1 [overall], 5-0 CCAL record and back-to-back CCAL championships. Not too shabby,” said Turlock head coach Mike Contreras.

Next up on the postseason wrestling schedule are the boys Divisionals and the girls Regional Qualifiers on Saturday.