Last season belonged to Pitman High on the mat.
The reigning Central California Conference champions for varsity wrestling had a splendid season in 2014-15 and over the last two years have had eight state qualifiers combined, by far the most in school history within a two-year frame.
Needless to say, head coach Adam Vasconcellos and his team have made Pitman a force in the state, but across town, Turlock is a well-known power in California but has fell in a limbo over recent years.
“We put a ton of time out here with summer wrestling, which we basically live in the Clovis area in the summer time, wrestling them every weekend and Buchanan as well. Clovis has always won so we take a big group and wrestle Clovis for two days and that’s what we've been doing when everyone is taking a break and that is why our boys always continue to get better,” said Vasconcellos.
In his first official season as the head coach, Anthony Gonzalez, former state qualifier for Turlock takes over at his alma mater and brings with him a list of accomplishments and experience in wrestling.
Helping Anthony will be his brother, two-time State Champion Lewis Gonzalez.
Brady Egleston (132), Andy Orozco (152), and Uriel Villasenor (160) look to be the front men for this year's Turlock team.
All three should be very competitive in their respective weight classes and perhaps reach Masters.
“We didn't lose too many guys from our lineup of last year so this year we should definitely be in the mix especially having Brady, Andy and Uriel,” said Gonzalez of this year's team. “We definitely look good but we won't know for sure until we go out there and compete.”
Competing for a CCC title might be a possibility but they will have to dethrone the defending champions, Pitman, if they hope to achieve that.
Pitman is returning two standouts on their lineup in Adam Velasquez (126) and Isaiah Perez (138), both were state qualifiers
The cousin-duo might be arguably the best in their weight classes in the CCC, especially since both are still underclassmen.
“Adam has really stepped into a huge leadership role for us, it's kind of nice since he's still a junior,” said Vasconcellos. “We are fortunate to have the great kids we have, and continue to have.”
Sophomore Perez should provide stability with another great year after packing on a lot of muscle in the offseason. His cousin, should be one of the top wrestlers, if not, the best in Sections, and is a front-runner to qualify for state once again.
Expect to see Pitman to come out and have another strong year behind a very lengthy roster that is looking solid in the heavyweight class as well with Julian Barrera (220) as one of the best in the area.
“Things are far away and anything can happen, so we always tell our kids to overachieve whether it's exceeding your goals or anything that might be individual,” Vasconcellos added.
“With the exception of Pitman I think we will be right up there,” Gonzalez added. “We know Pitman is tough.”
But every wrestler knows that predictions mean nothing. What really matters is the outcome on the mat.