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Saavedras showing helps Pride to Rumble title
Wrestling Pic 3
Pitman High’s Emilio Saavedra had another dominant showing, this time winning the 114-pound title at Saturday’s Rumble in the Jungle at Pitman High. - photo by CHHUN SUN / The Journal
7th Annual Rumble in the Jungle

Top Finishers

105 — 1st, Jason Valdovinos, Turlock


114 — 1st, Emilio Saavedra, Pitman; 6th, Eric Ruezga, Pitman

125 — 2nd, Derrick Avila, Pitman

132 — 1st, Tyler Klinkhammer, Pitman

137 — 2nd, Gerardo Ricardo, Turlock

140 — 5th, Tony Delgadillo, Hilmar

145— 3rd, Albino Orozco, Turlock

152 — 2nd, Kyle Silva, Hilmar; 5th, Zachary Grimes, Turlock

160 — 1st, Marcel Vega, Pitman

171 — 1st, Mario Aguirre, Pitman

191 —  2nd, Omar Flores, Turlock; 3rd, Matt Temples, Pitman

217 — 1st, Kyle Martinez, Pitman; 4th, Ricky Flores, Turlock

It wasn’t pretty, Pitman High wrestler Emilio Saavedra would later say about his path to another tournament title.

He didn’t look too happy after pounding Matt Ontiveros of Central High (Fresno) 13-0 in the 114-pound finals of the seventh annual Rumble in the Jungle on Saturday night at Pitman High. For the entire match, fans inched as close as they could to the championship mat while the last several dozen of the remaining crowd at the daylong event kept their eyes on the Pride’s freshman sensation.

Everyone seemed impressed by Saavedra’s ability to shutdown a bigger wrestler — except for Saavedra himself.

“It was sloppy,” he said afterward. “I don’t know. Out of position, bad technique and not doing all the things I do in practice.”

But the performance was more than enough to help the Pride to a first-place tournament team finish ahead of runner-up and crosstown rival Turlock High. Besides Saavedra’s win, Tyler Klinkhammer (132 pounds), Marcel Vega (160), Mario Aguirre (171) and Kyle Martinez (217) all earned individual titles for the Pride.

Klinkhammer endured one of tournament’s more difficult matches, as his finals opponent, Escalon’s Jonathan Costa, had defeated him over  the summer during a wrestling camp in Ponderosa. Well, Klinkhammer earned sweet revenge, finishing with a 4-3 decision in front of an important person in his life.

“I was pretty happy,” he said. “I was glad my dad was there to see.”

For Saavedra, he didn’t want to look back. He wanted to move forward, now that he’s the state’s top wrestler in his weight class after winning the Doc Buchanan Invitational, considered the toughest tournament in California outside of the CIF State Meet.

“I have to clean myself up, technique wise,” he said. “I have to get ready for state, for sections and all the postseason.”

The Pride didn’t showcase all their wrestlers, including last season’s state placer Andrew Perez. Turlock did the same, as state medalists Fabian Garcia and Brandon Egleston are all resting up for the postseason, which begins with the Central California Championship on Feb. 10.

But the Bulldogs still managed an impressive Rumble in the Jungle run with the wrestlers they did showcase, which might explain their second-place team showing. Jason Valdovinos led the way with a first-place finish at 105 pounds, while Gerardo Ricardo (137) and Omar Flores (191) both took second.

“Our focus is now on Pitman,” Turlock coach Mike Contreras said, referring to today’s dual match with his team’s crosstown rival at Turlock High at 6 p.m., “as we hope to finish 4-1 in CCC and still maintain a chance to come away as co-champions this season.”

Even with an inexperienced group, Hilmar High still left with two tournament medals, including a runner-up finish by Kyle Silva at 152 pounds after falling to a 14-7 decision to Patterson High’s Zackary Whitney in the finals.

To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.