For the past nine years Turlock High’s wrestling season has begun with a Madera High dual, and for the past seven years the Central Section stalwart Coyotes have stepped off the mat as victors. The Bulldogs hosted Madera on Wednesday and for a short time it looked like history would repeat itself.
Turlock dropped its first three matches, prompting the Coyote lineup to cheer with confidence, but the Bulldogs quickly regained their composure and put an end to Madera’s early celebrations. Turlock went on to win the next three matches en route to a 31-19 victory, its first against the Coyotes since head coach Mike Contreras’ first year at the helm.
“They have a real tough program so to come out with a victory against them, with one of your top guys out of the lineup, is big time,” Contreras said.
After Alex Gutierrez, Jason Valdovinos, and Ricco McCombs lost close, grueling matches, Rafael Herrera came through with a two-point overtime victory to turn the tables on Madera. Dylan White followed Harrera with another two-point overtime victory before Isaac Bertalotto notched Turlock’s third straight win and tied the dual 9-9.
“They battled; every match went the distance,” Contreras said. “They wrestled smart and tough and our conditioning looked good.”
The Bulldogs didn’t relinquish their lead after Bertalotto’s victory and proceeded to record two pins while preventing their own backs from touching the mat. Andres Orozco and Wyatt Boyd recorded the pair of unexpected pins for Turlock.
“I was impressed,” Contreras said. “Hopefully, that’s a good indicator of how our season’s going to go.”
Turlock is currently competing in the Clovis West Shootout where its wrestlers are matched against a handful of Tri-Rivers Athletic Conference teams, the toughest league California has to offer.