Hilmar, Delhi and Denair High are each sending one wrestler to this weekend's Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Championships at the Stockton Arena after their respective 12th, 13th and 14th place finishes in the team standings at the SJS Division V Championships last weekend.
The Yellowjackets fielded the only champion of the three schools with Cody Rentfro's (170) 11-3 defeat of Calaveras High's Ayden Garcia in the finals.
“I knew he was improving. He improved greatly throughout the year and last year as a freshman,” Hilmar head coach Bruce Scott said. “He's a good wrestler, he learns quick and he's got good strength.”
Two of Rentfro's teammates, Wyatt Amaral (132) and Freddy Delgadillo (138), very nearly joined him onto Masters as well, but were unable to make the top-four cut with fifth place finishes.
“That was a bummer,” Scott said. “It's unfortunate, but that's the way it is. I'm sure it's going to get them motivated for next year.”
Delhi also had several close calls last weekend as Jesse Flores (HVY) missed out on a championship by one point and David Chavez (113) missed out on fourth place by one point.
Flores, returning to the SJS Div. V Championships after a second-place finish last year as a freshman, lost his finals match to Tristan Smith of Ripon High by a score of 2-1, with both of Smith's points being awarded via penalties — one in the second period and another in the closing moments of the third.
“It played out really well for us. Even though we lost, Jesse took it to that kid,” Delhi head coach Ray Cedres said. “Jesse picked him up off the mat and when he came down he still had his hands clasped, so he got a technical violation point with 13 seconds left for locking hands on the mat.”
Unlike Flores, Chavez, Amaral and Delgadillo, Denair's Luis Mendoza (195) experienced a strong end to his two-day performance as he battled back from a first-round pin to place third.
“We had a talk and I said this would not be a good way to go out your senior year, after a match like that. He came back and won his last two on Friday, and looked a lot better,” Denair head coach Don Helnore said.
After being pinned by Anthony Howard of Bret Harte High, Mendoza won five straight matches — including a rematch with Howard in the consolation semifinals that he won via pin — and redeemed himself after finishing fifth in the tournament last year. “He came back and won five straight, so that was a big accomplishment.”
Rentfro, Flores and Mendoza will next join the rest of the SJS on Friday in a clash for State qualification. For Rentfro and Mendoza, this weekend will be a new experience.
“I think he's as ready as he can be. He's going to have to wrestle better than he did at the small school's (tournament) in order to progress through the tournament and not become a spectator by the second day,” Scott said of Rentfro. “I would definitely consider him to be a dark horse to get to State.”
“A couple breaks here and there, who knows. Maybe he can medal,” Helnore said.
Flores will be in familiar territory on his second trip to Stockton Arena in as many years and will be aiming to best his 2-1 Masters performance from a year ago.
“It's not that he's more motivated to be in Masters, he's more comfortable with himself going to Masters,” Cedres said. “Going into Masters this time is not overwhelming to him. He's ready to go.”