The Modesto Junior College wrestling team figured to improve this season. So far, so good.
The state’s 8th-ranked Pirates, 2-0 in home duals so far, welcome a strong field to their annual Mike Tamana Invitational on Saturday at MJC Gym.
Twelve teams, including top-ranked Fresno and No. 2 Mt. San Antonio, are featured. Other teams include West Hills, Bakersfield, Rio Hondo, Chabot, Delta, Skyline, Santa Rosa, Shasta and Sacramento.
Modesto, which placed sixth out of 17 teams two weeks ago at West Hills, is led by sophomore Luke Brewer (No. 2-ranked at 197), Noor Kathem (No. 3 at 157) and Cristian Vasquez (No. 4 at 125). Mark Taijeron also is expected to make an impact at 141.
The MJC tournament begins Saturday at 9 a.m., with the finals scheduled for about 5 p.m.
Pirates grind in Big 8 – MJC (5-8, 1-2) sits in sixth place in the Big 8 Conference, and all five teams ahead of them are ranked in the state’s top 25.
“It’s just a matter of being consistent and playing well for an entire match,” first-year coach Ryan Bagwell said. “We’re just trying to figure out how to win.”
12 The wrestling teams coming to MJC for the Tamana Invitational
A case in point was last week’s match against first-place Sierra, the opponent for the Pirates’ Dig Pink fundraiser to fight breast cancer. Modesto took a set that night, which was a step forward. Outside hitters Jerricka Lindsey and Monica Perez lead the Pirates.
Warriors academic award – The Cal State Stanislaus women’s soccer team, for the third straight year, has received a Team Academic Award from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. It recognizes the Warriors’ 2014-15 team. To qualify, a team must post a collective grade-point average of 3.0 or higher to make the list.
“It is a testament to the commitment by our student-athletes, coaches and administration to academic excellence,” coach Gabriel Bolton said. “I’m very proud of the culture of success here.”
Co-champs stumble – The MJC men (7-4, 1-2), Big 8 co-champions with Santa Rosa a year ago, have lost three straight going into Friday’s home game against West Hills. One of the recent losses was a disheartening 7-1 setback to Santa Rosa. Modesto is in fourth place in the five-team league.
One of the early-season standouts was midfielder Cesar Balderas, whose eight goals left him tied for third in the state.
Bounceback win – The Modesto women (8-2, 2-2), tied for third in the Big 8, bounced back from a 2-0 loss against American River by beating Cosumnes River 5-1 on Tuesday. Madeline Adams accounted for two goals, followed by goals by Yaritza Arista, Jenna Viss and Andrea Zaragoza. Modesto met Sierra at home on Friday.
The Pirates, the 2014 Big 8 champions and NorCal semifinalists, were beaten 2-0 two weeks ago by undefeated Delta (10-0-1). MJC is led by Arista and Viss, who are tied for ninth in the state with 11 goals apiece.
It is a testament to the commitment by our student-athletes, coaches and administration to academic excellence. I’m very proud of the culture of success here.
Chasing Sierra – Back-to-back NorCal titles probably won’t happen for the Pirates, who are headed for a second-place finish behind Sierra with four Big 8 tournaments left. Sophomore Parker Pilati averages in the low-to-mid 80s. Freshman Caitlin Pfaff led the team with an 82 earlier this week at Ancil Hoffman in Carmichael.