Bears topple Falcons

Sjansen@mercedsunstar.comJanuary 10, 2013 

— Merced coach Clayton Schneider won't sit back and stay quiet long if he doesn't see one of his wrestlers attacking.

Schneider preaches an aggressive style and it was on display Thursday night as Merced defeated Atwater 53-21 at Atwater High.

"I don't like kids who want to sit back and not do anything," Schneider said. "I want them to work to score. That's what I'm always teaching."

The Bears dominated the light and middle weights, running off nine straight wins during the dual, including seven straight matches where Merced didn't surrender a takedown.

The Bears recorded 23 takedowns as a team to just six for Atwater. Merced's Nicholas Ortega racked up 11 takedowns alone in a 30-12 win over the Falcons' Grant Ledford in the 120-pound match.

"We're very young," said Atwater coach Nelson Medeiros, whose team dropped to 0-2 in the Central California Conference and 6-7 overall. "We unloaded the bus last year with graduation. We lost nine guys who scored points."

Many of Atwater's wrestlers are being introduced to the sport at the high school level. That puts them at a disadvantage against teams from other towns that have wrestling in middle schools like Merced.

"Wrestling doesn't come naturally," said Medeiros, who started a youth wrestling program this fall. "It takes a lot of years and a lot of experience. A lot of our guys are wrestling varsity for the first time and that spotlight can scare them."

The night started off well for Atwater as Jose Quintero (182 pounds) and Abel Garcia (220) picked up pins to help the Falcons jump out to an 18-0 lead.

Then Merced took over as heavyweight Tony Lopez scored six points with a pin. Freshman Adam Vargas then defeated Atwater Timmy Borba 9-0 in the 106-pound match to keep the momentum on Merced's side.

"Before the match our coach told us to be aggressive and work on our moves," Vargas said.

Vargas put his match away against Borba with reversals in the second and third periods.

"He was loose on my and I could feel it," Vargas said. "I just brought my hips up and kicked out my legs."

Carlos Briones (113), Lawrence Anderson (126), Mark Taijeron (138) and Isaiah Alva) all pinned their opponents during Merced's nine-win stretch.

Ortega and Xavier Alva both recorded technical falls as the Bears built a 53-18 lead.

"We're pretty solid," Schneider said. "We've got a good group of kids who work hard. It's good to see their hard work paying off.

"Vargas wrestled really well tonight. Ortega, Christian Leyva and Carlos Briones all did a good job for us. They did some things tonight that we've been working on and that's good to see."

For Merced, it was a nice rebound after Wednesday night's 39-25 loss to Buhach Colony.

"Yeah, a lot of our guys were upset with the way they wrestled (Wednesday) night," Schneider said. "It's good and bad to get right back out there. It's tough wrestling back-to-back nights, but our guys wrestled well. Going seven matches in a row without giving up a takedown is pretty good. You're going to do pretty well when that happens."

Atwater's young team is learning how the season can be a grind. The Falcons also wrestled on back-to-back nights and now get ready for the Lloyd C. Engel Invitational in Escalon today and Saturday.

"It's a long week for our guys," Medeiros said. "A lot of them are going to be sore come Monday."

Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 385-2462 or via e-mail at sjansen@mercedsun-star.com.

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