Fifth-place matches often are confined to the small type and waged on mats away from the center of attention.
Not so this week.
One of the featured elements of the Sac-Joaquin Section Divisionals, held Friday and Saturday, are those fifth-place collisions. The top five in each weight class of these events will advance to the Section Masters Feb. 26-27 at Stockton Arena.
The point: Fifth place this weekend is golden. Sixth place means the season is over.
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The Modesto Metro Conference will send its best to the Division I South at Lincoln High of Stockton, where it will meet with wrestlers from the Central California Conference, Joaquin Athletic Association and the Tri-City Athletic League. The finals are scheduled to begin Saturday at 4 p.m.
The Division IV will be contested at Dalben Center at East Union of Manteca, the venue for the Valley Oak League, the Pioneer Valley League and the Capital Valley Conference. Championship matches will start Saturday at 5:15.
Hilmar High will welcome Division V wrestlers from the Trans-Valley, Western Athletic, the Golden Empire and the Mother Lode, with the finals Saturday at 4.
NO TEAM SCORING -- The MMC never has team-scored its regular season-ending championship, held last Friday at Enochs, for a reason.
"Our league is so young (only 6 years old) and we're trying to get better," Grace Davis coach Mike Cantwell said. "We give our No. 1 and No. 2 seeds byes in the first round to protect the younger kids and to give them a chance to win a first-round match against each other.
"We just don't want state qualifiers and freshmen going against each other in the first round. We leave the team element to our dual meets."
The Western Athletic, the Trans-Valley and the Mother Lode awarded team points in their respective meets last weekend.
Recognizing both the dual-meet and the tournament champion appears to be the idea here, but there's more involved with the MMC, a league trying to improve in stature.
"If you add up the points at the league meet, the dual-meet champion usually would win anyway," Beyer coach Tim Louis said. "I don't see any reason for a six-team league to score team points."
Sure enough, Davis -- which edged Enochs for the MMC dual-meet title -- vaulted eight wrestlers into the league finals. Seven won.
NOTES -- Section rankings take on more importance this time of the season, and the Stanislaus District -- as usual -- is well-represented. Three juniors, Turlock's Fabian Garcia (119) and Oakdale pair Shane Tate (130 and Charlie Gilstrap (215) are ranked No. 1 in their respective classes. Oakdale trio Wyatt Casey (112), Trent Noon (152) and A.C. Brown (171) along with David Ferry of Central Catholic (135) are No. 2. ...
League-championship meets often become get-even time for wrestlers hoping to even the score from recent losses. Such was the case at the TVLs at Waterford, where Escalon captured seven weight-class titles and swept past the host Wildcats. Escalon's Nick Robbins (132) and Anthony Munoz (137), both seeded fourth, knocked off the top seeds in their brackets en route to titles.
That salved a few wounds for the Cougars, who were edged by Waterford 39-36 last month in the dual that decided the regular-season champion. It was a sweet win for Waterford for two reasons: 1. It was accomplished at Escalon and, 2. It's a farewell of sorts for Waterford, as the wrestling team will join the rest of its athletic squads in the Southern League this fall. ...
Los Banos, which waited until its seventh and final season in the CCC to win the league title last Friday at Turlock, already looks forward to next year in the WAC and some entertaining matches against Central Catholic. Coach Josh Adams says the Tigers will return wrestlers in nine of the 14 weight classes. ... American wrestling icon Dan Gable on his favorite sport: "Once you've wrestled, life is easy."
Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2302.