Ron Agostini

August 6, 2014

Hometown Report: Enochs wrestling star Jones rests after busy summer

Enochs High junior Sariyah Jones, a busy globetrotting summer of freestyle wrestling behind her, prepares for high school wrestling. She will aim for a state title.

Enochs High School’s Sariyah Jones has enjoyed her summer vacation – all two weeks of it. And it’s pretty much over.

The undersized wrestler with the oversized goals enters her junior year next week. She savored her brief break after a globe-trotting trip that kept her away from home for two months.

“I ate what I wanted whenever I wanted,” Jones said of her rest-and-relaxation holiday. “It won’t be long before the season starts.”

Jones, 16, accrued more than a few frequent flier miles as she represented the United States on the Cadet World Team. Her summer highlight was a 1-1 showing for seventh at the Wrestling World Championships in Humenné, Slovakia, from July 15-20. She followed a first-round win with a two-point loss in the second round to the eventual semifinalist. Jones did not place at that event in 2013.

“I was proud to win my first international match,” Jones said. “I’m working pretty hard on my freestyle and also was practicing against boys back at home.”

She returned to home turf in Fargo, N.D., and placed sixth at the USA Freestyle Nationals, held July 18-26. Three straight come-from-behind wins vaulted Jones into the semifinals, but an aching back forced her to injury-default the rest of the tournament.

Earlier, Jones took a fourth at the German Grand Prix, followed by a third at the Austrian Open. After that, she spent three weeks in Illinois at the Olympic Development Camp. If the injury at Nationals was a disappointment, it was negated by the third-place showing in Germany against a huge field.

Freestyle is important to her, given the fact that freestyle is the competition for the Olympics. She doubts she can make a push for 2016, but 2020 is a potential fit.

For now, Jones points to folkstyle, the high school format. Her sophomore year ended after the Modesto Metro Conference Championships because the Girls State Championships in Visalia conflicted with a training camp in Sweden.

That won’t happen this season. Jones, fourth at State as a freshman, again aims high.

“I want to win a state title,” she said.

Las Vegas fight – The unbeaten lightweight “Lethal” Lewis Gonzalez of Turlock (9-0) collides with Luis “Baboon” Palomino of Peru (22-9) in the featured bout of World Series of Fighting 12 on Saturday night at Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The bout will be televised on NBCSN.

“I work hard and I pride myself on having more heart than my opponent, and I just keep the pace longer than they do,” Gonzalez said.

Palomino “is a very heavy-handed guy,” he said. “I’ve watched a couple of his fights, and his hands are dangerous. I’ve just got to play it smart and keep my range. ... I feel like I’m a stronger wrestler than most of the guys he has fought.”

The experts tab the fight as Palomino’s aggressiveness vs. Gonzalez’s grinding style. Gonzalez’s stock has risen after he followed up his two state titles with an unbeaten record to date as an MMA pro. The winner of “Luis vs. Lewis” will get closer to a world title shot, and Palomino minced no words.

“I’m definitely knocking him out,” he said of Gonzalez.

Baseball awards – Manteca High’s 25-3 season and Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV title were recognized when named Neil MacDannald as Medium School Coach of the Year and pitchers Lucas Vaughn and Jake Corn were selected to the first team. Vaughn batted .337 and went 12-0 on the mound, while Corn – who made the honors team as a utility man – was 7-2 as a pitcher and hit .408.

Also making the first team was Central Catholic outfielder Matt Clark, who batted .484 and drove in 23 runs.

Oakdale’s Bryce Dyrda and Sierra star Jake Pruitt were second-team picks.

In the Small School division, Modesto Christian infielder Mason Washington batted .554 en route to first-team honors. Another first-team selection was Escalon’s Brandon Grogan, who hit .500 with 24 RBIs. Calaveras infielder Thomas Boitano made the second team.

Turlock catcher Brett Cumberland earned a second-team selection in the Large School division.

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