The Bulldog Classic has been a destination tournament for wrestlers for years. Scheduled at the end of pre-league competition, Turlock High has used its home tournament as a way to prepare its wrestlers for the Central California Conference, pitting them against talent from a variety of local schools.
That tradition continued on Saturday with the 23rd annual Bulldog Classic. Though the brackets weren’t nearly as full as in years past, Turlock, along with Hilmar High, engaged in several hard-fought matches throughout the day. By the tournament’s end, the Bulldogs emerged as tournament champions with 209.5 points, with Monache High and Lodi High finishing second and third, respectively, with 175 and 133 points. Hilmar finished 11th as a team with 54.5 points.
In addition to the team championship, Turlock saw five of its wrestlers earn individual championships and three others walk away with silver medals. Hilmar fielded one individual champion.
“We felt pretty good about that,” Turlock head coach Mike Contreras said of his team’s performance. “Besides our five guys who are returning from Masters, we're pretty young. So that was a pretty big performance for us.”
Dustin Lema (106) became Turlock’s first gold medal winner on Saturday with his 10-8 victory over Isaiah Rios of Monache in the finals. Two matches later, Brady Egleston added to Turlock’s list of winners with a close 3-1 match against Joseph Larosa of Hughson High. The Bulldogs dropped their first finals match with Fabian Giona’s (138) major decision loss to Patterson High’s Daniel Cota, but bounced back with Shawn Gonzalez’s (145) 3-0 win over Tucker Purdy of Tracy High.
Turlock’s next finals match, between Andres Orozco and Humphrey Quirie of Summerville High, went beyond the distance and into sudden death where Orozco found himself on the receiving end of a takedown for the loss. Turlock’s final two wrestlers then squared off, against each other, in the 195-pound finals match that saw Chance Holly defeat teammate Isaac Perez via pin.
“We can't complain when we win the tournament by 30 points and put seven in the finals,” Contreras said.
In the middle of Turlock’s finals matches, Hilmar sent Cody Rentfro (170) onto the mat to face Tracy’s Toma Landeros. Rentfro controlled the bulk of the match and wrestled through a severe bloody nose for the 10-3 win.
“He’s really kind of coming into his own this year,” Hilmar head coach Bruce Scott said. “He’s just kept improving. He’s a good learner, he listens and he takes coaching very well. Because of that, I think it’s allowing him to progress as a wrestler, and he enjoys the sport, too, which is always nice.”
Hilmar’s Freddy Delgadillo (145) also placed in the tournament, finishing fourth while teammates Travis Hittesdorf (106) and Tommy Dias (120) both placed sixth.
Turlock also had more medalists as it earned top six finishes in all but two weight classes, including a trio of third place finishes by Michael Marquez (113), Juan Soria (182) and Julian Arteaga (220).
Turlock’s next test on the mat comes on the road today in the CCC opener against Buhach Colony High. The Bulldogs and Thunder clashed in the first dual tournament of the year that saw Turlock lose by a single point, so today’s dual is expected to be an exciting one.
“Our focus is squarely on Buhach Colony,” Contreras said. “We lost a couple of matches we could have easily won in that dual meet,” “I think we're ready. We know it's going to be at tough dual meet, so it's going to come down to who wants it more and makes the less mistakes.”
Turlock will be wrestling without one of its top wrestlers, Isaac Bertalotto, who also missed the Bulldog Classic due to injury.
As for the Yellowjackets, they also compete today in their second Trans Valley League dual of the year against Hughson High.