STOCKTON — Israel Saavedra is 15½, could pass for 12, but wrestles like he's 21.
And in the Sac-Joaquin Section, he's the number that counts the most No. 1.
The talented Modesto High freshman worked the 113-pound class at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Championship like the way varsity pounds the scout squad.
It went like this: 15-0 tech-fall, pin, pin, pin and, in Saturday afternoon's final, pin.
Saavedra looks like a choir boy until he walks onto the mat. Then, well, appearances deceive. The younger brother of Modesto junior and two-time state medalist Emilio Saavedra gets busy.
Too busy for nearly all opponents.
"I'm best on my feet. I'm not really a rider," he allowed. "I like to be more aggressive."
Saavedra headlined 37 Stanislaus District qualifiers to the CIF State Championship next week in Bakersfield. The Masters, the final conduit to State, served its usual helpings of glory and heartbreak for two days at Stockton Arena.
Joining Saavedra on the top step was junior 132-pounder Mark Taijeron, Merced's first Masters champion since 2009.
But for seven other district stars including 2012 Masters champions Ray Lomas of Central Catholic and Trevor Smith of Ripon their title dreams were dashed in the finals.
Start with senior Gabe Balderas, who will become the first Ceres product in history to reach State three times. Balderas' misfortune was to walk onto the same mat with Saavedra. He was pinned in 3:49.
Saavedra constantly probes and feints and, sooner than later, attacks. His work-rate intensified after Emilio missed weight earlier this month at the Modesto Metro Conference meet, thus ending his season on the spot.
Now, the younger Saavedra is fighting for two after he annexed the medal Emilio won two years ago.
"He practiced with us every day even after he was done," Israel said. "It was kind of sad. It's made me want to push myself more to show our name."
Lomas' name can't be missed on the sports scene. A year ago, he placed fifth in Bakersfield. Only a few months ago, he carried CC's football to a state title.
He appeared on the way to another trophy-case moment during his 170-pound final against Nicholas Fiegener of Folsom. Lomas protected a 1-0 lead by riding Fiegener until late in the match, when the opponent escaped and during overtime quickly took Lomas down to end it.
"It was getting hard to hold him down, and I was getting my shots off," Lomas said. "I felt confident (at 1-1). He was just clutch at the right time."
More difficulty was found by the rangy Smith, who collided with Vacaville's Jeramy Sweany, ranked No. 1 in the state at 195. Smith fell 6-3 despite his 3-point flurry in the final seconds.
"I've already tasted section gold," Smith said in reference to last year's title. "I want the bigger one (State)."
Contrary to Smith and Lomas, Enochs sophomore McCoy Kent has just begun his journey at the elite level. One of the city's rising stars tested Nevada Union senior Jonny Callas but eventually lost 4-3.
Kent drew even 3-3 but gave up the costly escape point late in the match.
Later, Oakdale coach Brian Stevens touched on the demands of this meet, where good often is not good enough. His Mustangs placed fourth far behind Vacaville which captured its 15th Masters title and sent six to Bakersfield, including Brian's son Ronnie (120).
"It's just a tough tournament," Stevens said. "You can't make too many mistakes."
Turlock repeated its fifth-place finish from 2012. Five Bulldogs advance, including 126-pound runner-up Rafael Herrera.
Placing third were Oakdale's Nico Colunga (106), Escalon's Tyler Lawrence (132) and Johnathon Costa (170), Central Catholic's Joey Abbate (138), Hughson's Andrew Patrick (145), Calaveras' Justin Brown (160) and Turlock's Ricardo Garcia (220).
It's on to Bakersfield, where Saavedra hopes to pick up where his brother left off.
Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2302. Follow Ron via Twitter on modbeesports.com
At Stockton Arena
Team 1. Vacaville 244. 2. Folsom 127 1/2. 3. Del Oro 112 1/2. 4. Oakdale 110. 5. Turlock 98 1/2. 6. Bella Vista 93 1/2. 7. Ponderosa 86. 8. Elk Grove 84 1/2. 9. Franklin (Elk Grove) 72 1/2. 10. Oak Ridge 71. 11. Kimball 65 1/2. 12. Escalon 63. 13. Rodriguez 53. 14. Central Catholic 52. 15. Merced 47 1/2. 16. Bret Harte 45 1/2. 17. Tie, Woodcreek and Calaveras, 45 1/2. 19. Wood 44. 20. Los Banos 42.
106 Final, Gionn Peralta, Vacaville, p. Isaac Blackburn, Del Oro, 1:06. 3rd, Nico Colunga, Oakdale, d. Curtis Booth, Folsom, 9-2. 5th, Tristan Scott, Elk Grove, p. Tyler Felix, Los Banos, 2:34. 7th, Christian Ramos, Benicia, p. Jordan Jensen, Woodcreek, :55.
113 Final, Israel Saavedra, Modesto, p. Gabe Balderas, Ceres, 3:49. 3rd, Anthony Hernandez, Vacaville, d. Ethan Brewer, Sheldon, 15-3 maj. 5th, Clay Shropshire, Del Oro, d. Gilbert Martinez, Jesuit, 4-1. 7th, Trevor Williams, Oakdale, d. Carlos Alvarez, Folsom, 11-5.
120 Final, Kasey Klaus, Vacaville, d. Ronnie Stevens, Oakdale, 8-2. 3rd, James Gomez, Woodcreek, d. Josh Villaflor, Franklin (EG) 13-4 maj. 5th, Albert Landeros, Tracy, d. Brandon Vu, Rodriguez, 7-1. 7th, Zach Ruybal, Del Oro, d. Lorenzo Lewis, Pitman, 11-3 maj.
126 Final, Victor Trujillo, Bella Vista, p. Rafael Herrera, Turlock, 1:28. 3rd, Cameron Bailey, Vacaville, d. Sean Brown, Granite Bay, 5-1. 5th, Max Stevens, Oakdale, d. Daniel Williams, Hughson, inj. def. 7th, Vincent Aguilar, Enochs, d. Paul Maroon, Benicia, 3-0.
132 Final, Mark Taijeron, Merced, d. Trent Nicholson, Kimball, 6-5. 3rd, Tyler Lawrence, Escalon, d. Isaac Bertalotto, Turlock, 5-2. 5th, Jimmy Felix, Los Banos, d. Bobby Ehman, Vacaville, 4-0. 7th, Alex Elko, Jesuit, p. Paul Fagbamilla, Beyer, 4:25.
138 Final, Jonny Callas, Nevada Union, d. McCoy Kent, Enochs, 4-3. 3rd, Joey Abbate, Central Catholic, d. Brandon Matu, Antelope, 4-3. 5th, Isaiah Alva, Merced, d. Giovanni Murillo, Bret Harte, 9-7. 7th, Brandon Claiborne, Oak Ridge, d. Eric Richards, Woodland, 17-0 T-fall.
145 Final, Hayden Fry, Vacaville, d. Lorenzo De La Riva, Folsom, 2-1. 3rd, Andrew Patrick, Hughson, d. Johnny Zieour, Del Oro, 2-1 (OT). 5th, Troy Grossi, Vista del Lago, d. Mike Kintz, El Camino, forfeit. 7th, Landon Croisant, Lincoln (Lincoln), d. Anthony Caito, Gregori, inj. def.
152 Final, Shayne Tucker, Bella Vista, d. Zack Velasquez, Argonaut, 16-1 T-Fall. 3rd, Trae Providence, Ponderosa, d. Latrell Benjamin, Gregori, 3-1. 5th, Zach Dawon, Vacaville, d. Justin Barnes, Bret Harte, 7-2. 7th, Rogelio Bravo, West, d. Adrian Maldonado, Wood, 6-5.
160 Final, Nicholas Fiegener, Folsom, d. Ray Lomas, Central Catholic, 3-1 (OT). 3rd, Justin Brown, Calaveras, d. Kyle Thorpe, Atwater, 4-0. 5th, Albino Orozco, Turlock d. Sean Fowler, Bella Vista, forfeit. 7th, Anthony Sorbera, Tokay, d. Joseph Dias, Hughson, 10-2 maj.
170 Final, Peter Santos, Oakmont, d. Keaton Subjeck, Oak Ridge, 10-0 maj. 3rd, Johnathon Costa, Escalon, d. Devon Nooner, Folsom, 2-1 (OT). 5th, Jakob Schallberger, Tokay, d. Dylan Kainrath, Del Oro, 6-4. 7th, Ezra Morgan, Napa, d. Myles Lenover, Placer, 8-4.
182 Final, Nick Troquato, Ponderosa, d. Joey Banks, Franklin (EG), 7-3. 3rd, Chris Lai, Vacaville, d. Henry Mederios, Rodriguez, 3-1. 5th, Marlon Ward, Monterey Trail, d. Zachary Claiborne, Oak Ridge, forfeit. 7th, Reggie Bland, Central Catholic, d. Jordan Davis, River Valley, 3-2.
195 Final, Jeramy Sweany, Vacaville, d. Trevor Smith, Ripon, 6-3. 3rd, Scott Votino, Elk Grove, d. Amrit Singh, West, 3-0. 5th, Jordan Colby, West Campus, p. Luke Brewer, Bret Harte, 3:28. 7th, Mark Papish, Rodriguez, d. Josh Phillips, Chavez, 6-5.
220 Final, Jordan Sepeda, Natomas, d. Josh Winters, Wood, 4-2. 3rd, Ricardo Garcia, Turlock, d. Zach Fallentine, Oakdale, 3-1. 5th, Logan Finley, Kimball, p. Noah Shelgren, Calaveras, 4:04. 7th, Dominic Freesha, Escalon, d. Vaughn Hingano, Rio Linda, 3-2.
285 Final, Jaharee Taylor, Elk Grove, d. Sam Alnassiri, Sheldon, 2-1. 3rd, Jeff Camilli, Ponderosa, d. Tyler Hecht, Franklin (EG) 2-1. 5th, Ricky Flores, Turlock d. Steven Gomez, Vacaville, 7-1. 7th, Eric Barrigan, Oakdale, d. Saul Meneses, Del Oro, 4-2.