Good wrestling dual-meets pack gymnasiums and generate the kind of excitement that can spice any winter.
Last week, a huge crowd arrived at the Pitman High gym for the showdown dual between crosstown rivals Pitman and Turlock with the Central California Conference title on the line. Each Pitman wrestler was introduced with his own entrance music and walked onto the mat with special fanfare.
Pay close attention to what Pitman, the eventual CCC dual-meet champion, and other schools are doing to promote their dual meets. The future of the sport could be enhanced by better promotion and an enhanced presentation on meet night.
The dual-meet season peaks with the annual Sac-Joaquin Section Team Duals on Saturday at Lincoln High in Stockton. League champions will gather to decide the team honors in head-to-head competition with final matches scheduled to start at 4 p.m.
The team duals stand out because of the crowd involvement, which is always entertaining and intense. Contrast that with the relative calm often seen during the mega-tournaments on the weekends.
Why? Two main reasons: 1. The dual meets, usually no more than two hours long, are easy to follow. Scores are posted and the action focuses on only one mat, and 2. You don’t have to be a star to be a factor at a dual meet.
“The result could be decided by anyone on your team who wins a big match. It’s not always about your star wrestler,” veteran Escalon coach Derek Scott said. “The winner usually depends on the four or five in the middle of your lineup in how they do and how many points they score.”
Conversely, the drawn-out weekend affairs are conducted with anywhere from six to 10 mats strewn across the gym. There’s no real clarity for spectators at least until the semifinal rounds.
The dual-meet excitement in Clovis, a wrestling hotbed, rivals basketball games. Each event is punctuated with showmanship not unlike professional wrestling. No one is endorsing WWE glitz at the high school level, but more attention never hurts for both athletes and fans.
“Those meets in Clovis are so good. The fans really get into it,” Turlock coach Mike Contreras said.
Oakdale is ranked third in the section behind leader Vacaville and No. 2 Folsom. The Mustangs rose above No. 4 Modesto, the Modesto Metro Conference champion, for the first time this season. ... Escalon won the Trans-Valley League dual-meet title and qualified for the Team Duals, but deciding the runner-up spot proved difficult. Hilmar, Hughson and Ripon all tied for second. League coaches broke the tie by adding the points accrued during the head-to-head meetings among the trio, and Ripon prevailed over Hilmar by two points.