The Central California Conference Championships were a huge success for both Pitman and Turlock High’s wrestling teams in more ways than one.
The Pride and Bulldogs walked away from Friday’s tournament with respective second and third place team finishes with Pitman advancing 12 wrestlers to next week’s Divisionals Tournament at Franklin High and Turlock advancing 13.
“I’m proud of all of our kids. For us to qualify 13, that’s big time,” Turlock head coach Mike Contreras said. “Honestly, if you would have told me we would qualify 13 I’d say, ‘I don’t know.’ So overall it was a great team performance.”
Pitman’s second place finish — only 2.5 points behind first place Golden Valley High — officially earned its wrestlers the school’s first ever league title, becoming co-champions alongside the Cougars.
“They’ve earned this through and through. These kids put in a ton of time. From the end of last year until now, we have 10 or 11 kids who’ve had over 100 matches this summer,” Pitman head coach Adam Vasconcellos said. “It hasn’t been easy, we’ve dealt with low numbers and a lot of different things, there has been a lot of hard work and time (put into this) so it feels pretty good.”
The Pride sent seven wrestlers to the finals and walked away with five champions — Hayden Mattox (122), Nick Valadez (134), Gilbert Valadez (140), Logan Wolfley (160), and Nick Roditis (222).
“We had the most champs of any school. We put seven in the finals, and we got 12 guys moving on and one alternate, so we have 13 guys alive for next weekend. Our guys wrestled well,” Vasconcellos said.
The Bulldogs, on the other hand, advanced four wrestlers to the finals with two, Rafael Herrera (128) and Albino Orozco (172), walking away with the gold.
“What we got from Rafael and Albino was exactly what we expected,” Contreras said. “They’ve been great leaders for us. They keep the kids motivated and they do a good job of doing that. I’m proud of the guys.”
There were several cross town matchups during the tournament but only one in the final round as Herrera took on Lorenzo Lewis for the 128-pound crown where he won via major decision, 12-4, to earn his second consecutive CCC championship.
As for Pitman, Wolfley also earned a major decision in his match against Merced High’s Christian Liayya for his third consecutive CCC championship — the only Pitman wrestler to do so.
Other notable performances for the Pride included Roditis’ championship victory over the section ranked JoJo Ochoa of Atwater High in only his first year as a wrestler.
Pitman’s other placers include Lewis and Eric Bejeran (HWY) who placed second, Quentin Hernandez (152) and Jagjit Johal (197) who placed third, and Trevor Mattox (106), Cristian Clementi (145), and Kuda Gwasira (170) who placed fourth.
Turlock’s other placers include Brady Egleston (115) and Chris Silva (154) who placed second, Dustin Lema (108), Alex Gutierrez (122), Andres Orozco (145), and Albert Gonzalez (HWY) who placed third, and Fabian Gaona (134), Shawn Souza (140), Anthony Villeagas (182), Isaac Perez (197), and Juan Coronado (222) who placed fourth.
These 25 wrestlers now have five days to prepare for Divisionals as they look to qualify for the Masters Tournament and eventually State.
“That’s our goal, get as many kids into Masters as we can and put them in good position to get to the State tournament,” Vasconcellos said. “We already have a list of things we need to work on for each individual kid and it starts Monday. Our kids are going to be ready. We have to stay hungry, that’s key, our kids have to stay hungry and I think they are.”
“Now’s the time for us to start peaking and this was a good start,” Contreras said. “We just have to concentrate on each individual, and they all have different things that they need to work on, so we’re going to get to work.”