Turlock High is sending seven wrestlers to the San Joaquin Section Division IA Finals, better known as the Masters Tournament, after a third place team finish at last weekend’s SJS D1A Championships which was hosted at Pitman High.
With wrestling stalwarts like Folsom, Ponderosa, and Elk Grove High added into the mix and 41 state ranked wrestlers present, Turlock’s third place finish was a good warm up for Masters.
“We got to see that high caliber competition a week ahead of time which is a good thing,” Turlock’s head coach Mike Contreras said.
Jason Valdovinos (115) and Ricardo Garcia (222) emerged from the two day tournament with gold medals in hand after rolling through their competition. Rafael Herrera (128) and Isaac Bertalotto (134) finished in second place, Albino Orozco (162) finished in third place, Dylan White (140) finished in fourth place, and Rickey Flores (287) finished in fifth place.
Garcia’s first place victory marked his second consecutive Divisional Championship and was won with a close 6-5 decision over Pitman High’s Nick Roditis. After being taken down and falling behind early, Garcia battled back to regain momentum of the match and hold on for the victory.
“That kid knows how to keep it close,” Contreras said of Roditis. “Ricardo did a good job on controlling the match and the pace.”
Turlock nearly had another first place finisher in Herrera who recorded three consecutive pins en route to the final match where he faced Ponderosa’s Jimmy Scarr and lost a contentious 4-3 decision.
“We can beat him; Ralphie just got caught early in the match,” Contreras said.
“The mistakes our wrestlers made are pretty easy to fix,” he added.
Pitman walked off the mats with an eighth place team finish and five wrestlers with a spot in the Masters brackets.
“Looking at the brackets and knowing how tough the tournament was, it’s a good finish for us,” Pitman’s assistant coach Chris Wolfley said.
Roditis (222) led the charge with his second place finish while Logan Wolfley (154) notched a third place finish and Lorenzo Lewis (122) earned a fourth place finish. Nick Valadez (134) and Hayden Mattox (115) rounded out the Pride’s qualifiers with respective fifth and seventh place finishes.
The Pride had hoped for a first place finish in the tournament with Wolfley, but a combination of a nagging injury and a highly competitive weight bracket prevented that. After a pair of technical falls in the first day of competition, Wolfley squared off against Braden Henderson of Elk Grove who is ranked 16th in the state. After losing to Henderson, he again faced stiff competition in Golden Valley’s Christopher Shipley and Folsom’s Connor Watson but was able to emerge victorious.
“Henderson’s a tough kid. He got his hands on Logan and slowed him down,” coach Wolfley said.
Turlock and Pitman are now a few days away from making the trip to Stockton Arena for the Masters where rematches are bound to happen and everyone’s goal is the State Tournament.
“It’s a good chance they’ll see these kids again,” Contreras said. “We got a good idea of what they do and what they look like now.”
“Looking at the kids—no seniors—we would really like to see every one of them to wrestle their best and make it into the second day,” Wolfley said. “Once you get to the second day it brings your confidence to another level.”
Hilmar sending two to Masters
The Yellowjackets finished their SJS DV Championship Tournament with a ninth place finish. Hilmar will be sending two wrestlers to Masters, Antonio Melo (184) and Mathew LaBass (170), after respective first and second place finishes.
“Overall, that’s a pretty good number to be moving on,” Hilmar’s head coach Bruce Scott said.
Melo’s season of success—he only lost three matches all year—followed as expected as Hilmar’s best shot at its first State qualifier in 20 years.
“We expected Melo to probably be in the finals. He met all those expectations and then some,” Scott said.
Hilmar nearly had another Masters qualifier in Victor Verissimo who finished in sixth place and missed a trip to Stockton Arena by one match.
“I’m hoping both of them can qualify for State,” Scott said of Melo and LaBass.
The Masters Tournament will be held on Friday and Saturday.