The last couple weekends have been busy for Valley wrestlers, full of preparation, travel, and formidable competition. Both a gauge for potential and a forge for talent, pre-season tournaments like the Reno Tournament of Champions and the Modesto Junior College Western Invitational provide coaches with a chance to form long-term expectations for their wrestlers, individually and as a team.
Turlock’s head coach Mike Contreras opted to test his wrestlers against top level competition for the second week in a row. Seven days after competing in the Clovis West Shootout, Contreras and nine of his Bulldogs traveled to the Reno TOC, arguable one of the top 5 tournaments in the nation, to find out where they stacked up on the mat.
Turlock’s representatives in Reno had varying degrees of success, but seniors Jason Valdovinos and Ricardo Garcia rose to the occasion and were the best of the bunch as the only Bulldogs to advance to the final day. Valdovinos got his Friday started with two first-round victories but was handed a loss in his third match against multiple Reno TOC and State Champion Isaiah Locsin. Valdovinos was unable to recover from the loss and ended with a 2-2 tournament record.
Garcia’s Saturday in Reno went much better than his teammates’. Turlock’s heavyweight, who lost one match at the Clovis West Shootout, defeated a number of ranked wrestlers before facing number one seed Jonathan Roa from Lemoore High. Garcia was seemingly on his way to the next match, leading with 10 seconds in regulation, but a last second Roa comeback ended his tournament and landed him in seventh place. It was Turlock’s first medal at the Reno TOC in two years.
“Considering what he did at Clovis, I felt he would do well at Reno and he did a spectacular job,” Contreras said of Garcia. “Us coming out with a 7th, that’s great.”
In addition to Garcia’s individual accomplishment, Turlock’s efforts earned it a top 30 team finish out of the 116 teams present.
“That tournament is very, very competitive with schools from across the nation,” Contreras said. “Our kids lost come close matches that we can hopefully win by the end of the season.”
While nine of Turlock’s wrestlers competed in Reno, eight others stayed closer to home to compete in the MJC Invitational. Of the eight Bulldogs, five finished in the top eight of their respective weight classes. Junior Angel Alvarez finished 8th at 138 pounds, sophomore Cristian Clementi finished 7th at 152 pounds, senior Jake Eyre finished 4th at 170 pounds, and freshman Brady Egleston emerged as the 106 pound tournament champion.
As Turlock divided time between Reno and Modesto, Delhi High’s wrestling program got its first opportunity to test itself against outside competition at the GW-Wingo Memorial Tournament at Waterford High. Although technically a JV tournament, head coach Ray Cedres saw the GW-Wingo as the perfect setting for his wrestlers to put their practice to use.
“We practice so hard, and to see the results on their first go around; I’m very proud of them,” Cedres said.
David Navarrette and Gerardo Santana’s championship performances at their respective weights of 145 and 113 pounds were the highlights of the day for the Hawks. Santana had to win only one match to claim the 113 pound bracket while Navarrette had to compete in two matches.
“I was looking for them to wrestle well and they impressed me a lot,” Cedres said of the two Hawk wrestlers. “They worked very hard the first three weeks before their matches and it showed.”