It’s back to the mat for Turlock High. With the official start of the 2013-14 prep wrestling season just one week away, the Bulldogs are in preparation mode as they get ready to finalize their roster at tonight’s Blue & Gold wrestle-off.
Turlock enters this season with three state qualifiers from last season in Rafael Herrera, Albino Orozco, and Isaac Bertalotto — Bertalotto being the sole medalist with an 8th place finish. As the Bulldog captains, the trio is expected to lead Turlock to its third consecutive Central California Conference championship and make a push through the post-season.
“They’re all very motivated. I made them my three captains and they’re doing a good job of being team leaders and they’re working really hard,” head coach Mike Contreras said. “I expect big things. I’m hoping that equates to three state medals this year. I’m sure they have their goals set high, and that’s what we’re expecting from them.”
Unlike last season, however, Turlock will not have the benefit of established big men as its top two wrestlers from the heavyweight divisions were lost to graduation.
“We lost our big guys, so we’ll see what happens there,” Contreras said. “I got some guys that are stepping in, two seniors that have been in our program, it’s their fourth year, but they haven’t had a lot of varsity experience. Hopefully they can step up and help us out.”
Despite their drop in depth, the Bulldogs are confident that a mix of fresh blood and returning grapplers will be enough to meet their expectations. Wrestlers like Andres Orozco, Brady Egleston, Fabian Gaona, Shawn Gonzalez, Dustin Lema, and Albert Gonzalez are just some of the young men Turlock hopes to turn to this season as they look to nab another league title.
Still, with programs like Golden Valley and Pitman High in the hunt for the same prize, it won’t be easy for Turlock.
“I know it’s going to be a challenge, but the kids are up for the challenge,” Contreras said. “The CCC is the toughest league around, but as long as we stay healthy and eligible and that stuff, I’m expecting big things from our squad.”
After the varsity line up is decided at tonight’s Blue & Gold, Turlock will travel to Madera High next Wednesday for its first match before competing in the always tough Vacaville Duals on Dec. 6 and 7.