The Pitman High wrestling team entered the final round needing to make up some ground on Golden Valley to wrap up the outright Central California Conference title.
The Pride was forced to share the title last year after the Cougars won the conference tournament.
This time Pitman left no doubt as the Pride went 6-0 in the finals to wrap up the CCC championship at Atwater High on Thursday.
“We knew we had to come through in the finals because Golden Valley had more finalists than us,” Pitman coach Adam Vasconcellos said. “Those four-point matches in the finals are big, especially because four of those finals matches were head-to-head with Golden Valley wrestlers.”
Freshman Isaiah Perez set the tone for the Pride in the 113-pound final by grinding out a 1-0 win over Golden Valley senior Tanner Browning. Perez was awarded the only point in the match late in the second round when Browning was penalized for locking hands.
Perez started the third round on top and was able to ride out Browning the final 2 minutes.
“Early on I felt like he was going to get out,” Perez said. “I just tried to hold him down and get control. When he did get to his feet I was able to bring him down again by tripping him.”
Adam Velasquez (120 pounds), Angel Velasquez (132), Lorenzo Lewis (138), Gilbert Valadez (145) and Cristian Clement (170) all added titles for Pitman.
“That’s pretty good,” Lewis said. “I wasn’t expecting us do that. We came out as a team and wanted to show everybody we’re the best team. Our team is pretty tough.”
Turlock took home two individual titles with Jacob Arteaga (220) and Rafael Magana (285).
The top four in each division advance to next week’s Division I-AA championships at Del Oro High in Loomis.
The biggest upset of the night came with controversy as Atwater’s Johnny Juarez pinned defending section champion Romeo Medina late in the first round of their 152-pound final.
Juarez and Merced’s Romeo Medina were both in precarious positions with their backs on or near the mat. The referee ruled Medina’s shoulders were on the mat for two seconds and awarded the win and the 152-pound championship to Juarez.
“When the whistle blew I didn’t know if I was pinned or he was pinned,” Juarez said. “My coaches were going crazy so I started going crazy. I looked over at the Merced coaches and they looked iffy so I figured I had won.”
Merced coach Clayton Schneider protested the call with the referee but the decision stood. The Merced coaches felt Medina had Juarez on his back for close to seven seconds prior to Medina rolling onto his shoulders.
“We went hard at each other and we kind of hurt each other when we went face to face,” Juarez said. “He got my legs and I thought I was pinned. I was on my back thinking I’ve can’t stay here. I’ve got to get up for my coaches. I was able to get my hips up and work something. It went really fast.”
Golden Valley’s Jacob Perry and Turlock’s Brady Egleston found themselves in a similar situation in their 126-pound final. Egleston tried to lock in a cradle on Perry and Perry tried to do the same on Egleston.
Ultimately, it was Perry getting the reversal points and three nearfall points to take a 5-0 lead at the end of the second round.
“That’s something I always do,” said Perry, went on to win 7-1. “If you try to get me in the cradle, I’m going to try to get you in the cradle. I could hear coach (Chopper) Mello yelling, ‘No. No. No. You don’t want to do that.’ But I knew I could get it.”
Buhach Colony had a strong performance, taking home three individual titles in Brandon Mendoza (106), Francisco Velasquez (160) and Jay Johnson (195).
Mendoza went into his final round of his championship match against Golden Valley’s Criselio Rivera tied 4-4 and was able to get three nearfall points for the win.
“I knew I had to do something to get points because he was on bottom and had the advantage,” Mendoza said. “If I let him up I was going to have to work twice as hard to get a takedown. I knew I had to turn him and it set up perfectly for a tilt.”