The Division I South Wrestling Championships belonged to Turlock High this year. The Bulldogs pulled out one of their best divisional performances in school history with their first place finish of 225 team points, more than a hundred points ahead of second place McNair High.
Of the 13 Bulldog wrestlers that competed in the Divisionals, 11 placed in the top six and nine advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament. Turlock had five first place finishes. Two wrestlers finished in second and two others finish at fourth.
Rival Pitman High walked away from the tournament in the top 10, advancing all three of its divisional wrestlers to Masters. The Pride finished the two-day tournament with a wrestler at first, second, and third place in their respective weight classes.
With the regular season and Divisionals behind them the Pride and Bulldogs now look on to Masters, the last step before every wrestler's ultimate goal, the State Tournament. This year the Masters will be held on Thursday and Friday at Stockton Arena. Turlock and Pitman both have wrestlers with Masters experience but the majority of those who qualified will be wrestling in the tournament for the first time.
Pitman senior Kyle Martinez wrestled at Masters twice as a sophomore and junior with Central Catholic High.
Martinez expects his experience and new found maturity to help him at Masters and eventually get him to the State Championships.
"Now that I'm here I have to work harder," Martinez said. "I was young then but now that I'm a big senior I'm ready to take it to state."
Turlock has two wrestlers returning to the Masters tournament, junior Jason Valdovinos and sophomore Albino Orozco. Orozco finished 2-2 in last year's tournament and Valdovinos placed 8th - one match away from advancing to State.
"Hopefully this year I'll make it to state," Valdovinos said. "Everything's been moving quickly and I'm catching up to everyone else, so I'm feeling good.
Wrestlers will compete in a 32-man bracket and those who place in the top seven will advance to state.