To his credit, Gregori High senior Cadence Mitchell accepted his buzzard’s luck in good stride.
Last week, he reached the Modesto Metro Conference Wrestling Championships final where he collided with Enochs senior McCoy Kent, merely ranked No. 2 in the state. Mitchell was teched 18-2.
Saturday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division I-A at McNair saw Mitchell march into another 138-pound title match. Of course, Kent was waiting for him. Kent again won, this time by a slightly less-lopsided 15-4 major, in the meet’s only all-MMC final.
Mitchell, before last week, never had faced Kent. The Gregori star figures he’s better off for his meetings against one of the state’s best.
“He (Kent) is so strong and trains hard,” said Mitchell, who trained with Kent two years ago. “I’m better this year. I’m dieting right, compared to last year.”
Mitchell’s day, other than Kent, went on schedule. He swept three matches, accented by a solid 7-0 win over Ignacio Gutierrez of Napa, to reach the final.
Like all other qualifiers, Mitchell awaits the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters – the best of the section’s best – next Friday and Saturday at Stockton Arena. He’s gone 2-2 in each of the last two Masters and hasn’t yet earned a trip to the State Meet in Bakersfield.
“I’ve come a long way from the beginning of the season,” Mitchell said.
Wrestlers from the MMC, Delta and Monticello Empire hammered each other for two days across four mats at McNair. The final round featured first-place, third-place, fifth-place and seventh-place matches staged at the same time. All who took part in that round advanced to the Masters.
Joining Kent in the winners’ circle from the MMC was, to no one’s surprise, two-time state champion Israel Saavedra of Modesto. Saavedra, unbeaten this season, wasn’t challenged. Two wins by tech brought him to the 126 final, where he pinned Anthony Wesley of Jesuit with an armbar in 1 minute, 43 seconds.
The Modesto junior thought he could have done better. Then again, he sets his personal bar higher than most.
“I wrestled a little sloppy. I’ll have to pick up the pace the next two weeks, when it really counts,” he said.
Beyer senior Martin Sandoval was the only other MMC entry who earned a finals match, where he was beaten 11-3 by Drake McKee of Will C. Wood. Sandoval rallied into the final, however, by scoring with 15 seconds left to beat Arsenio Ayala of Elk Grove 3-1.
Modesto captured fifth place in the team standings, due in part to third-place performances by freshman Ronald Ochoa at 113 and senior Andrew Williams at 132. Ochoa stopped Gregori’s Nick Kerr 7-1 for third.
Grace Davis senior Bobby Posadas, weakened by illness, defaulted out of the fifth-place match after an exhausting day. In the 182 semis, he yielded an escape point in the fourth overtime to fall 2-1 to Robbie Nickerson of Franklin-Elk Grove.
Kerr, Adam Juaregui of Modesto (160) and Chase Larson of Enochs all took home fourth-place medals. Juaregui was a hard-working 4-2.
All told, wrestlers positioned themselves for the most desired seeds at Masters.
“For the elite guys, there wasn’t much pressure. For the bubble guys like (Mitchell), it was very important,” Gregori coach Mike Cantwell said. “For everyone else, it was just about moving on.”
D-1 AA – Pitman rode champions Angel Velasquez (132) and Lorenzo Lewis (138) to a third-place finish at the D-I AA Championships at Del Oro. Also annexing titles were Merced seniors Romeo Medina (152) and Kenneth Hamel (182).
Yates Hunter of Lincoln, top-ranked in the section at 195, edged No. 2 Jay Johnson of Buhach Colony 5-2 for the title.
Finishing runners-up were Pitman’s Isaiah Perez (113), Adam Velasquez (120) and Cristian Clementi (170), and third was teammate Gilbert Valadez (145). Golden Valley, fifth in team standings, earned thirds by Tanner Browning (113), Jacob Perry (126) and Joey Terry (138). The top eight go to Masters.
D-III – Oakdale crowned eight weight-class champions and qualified 13 for the Masters, four more than 2014, en route to another blue banner at River Valley High in Yuba City. Mustangs winners included Jake Abeyta (106), Logan Eaton (113), Nico Colunga (120), Trevor Williams (126), Max Stevens (132), Colbey Harlan (138), Abel Garcia (170) and Miguel Ibarra (195). The Mustangs also captured two seconds and three thirds. The top four from D-III continue at Masters.
Central Catholic placed second in the team standings, far behind Oakdale. Ga’hlil Dillard captured the 152-pound title for the Raiders. Oakdale 183-pounder Frankie Trent, ranked third in the section, was beaten in the final by No. 2-ranked Seth Avis of Casa Roble.
“When you win almost all of the close ones all day, it ends up being a good day,” Oakdale coach Steve Strange said.
D-IV – Rainer Colina of Livingston decisioned Luis Saucedo of Central Valley 12-4 in the 113-pound title match of the Division IV Championships at Foothill High. Other champions were Daniel Cota of Patterson (132), John Alba of Ceres (152) and Joshua Strauss of second-place Los Banos (160). Cota defeated John Bustamonte of Los Banos 7-5 for the 132 title.
The top four in each weight class at Foothill will advance to Masters.
D-V – Escalon, anchored by champions Kyle Jimenez (113), Matt Gallego (182) and A.J. Camerena (195), placed second behind Calaveras in the team standings of the D-V Championships at Sonora.
Also winning were Waterford stars Ivan Gomez (106) and Matt Profeta (132), Bryce Sanguinetti of Sonora (152), Cody Renfro of Hilmar (170) and Tristan Smith of Ripon (285). Calaveras parlayed titles by Anthony Giangregori (138), Alex Rajewski (145) and Shane Torre (220) into the team win. The top four from D-V go to Stockton.