Pitman’s Talwinder Malhi (dark singlet) works against Turlock’s Cesar Rocha. Rocha won the 180-pound match 6-3. Pitman went on to win the dual 38-21 to capture the first-ever Central Califonria Athletic League title on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, at th Marchant Gymnasium in Turlock, Calif.

Lok'd up! Pitman beats rival Turlock to win first-ever CCAL boys wrestling title with domination of middle weight classes

Ron Agostini

TURLOCK – Two solitary lights illuminated the mat below while the fans sat far above, a scene straight out of Hoosiers.

Louise Marchant Gymnasium, completed in 1930, was the original Turlock High fieldhouse. It now serves as one of California’s unique wrestling venues, and it was the scene Wednesday night for one of the area’s most pivotal dual meets.

Pitman leaned hard on its talent in the middle weights and clinched the Central California Athletic League dual-meet title with a convincing 38-21 victory over intra-city rival Turlock. Both teams were unbeaten in CCAL matches, and there was a winner-take-all feel to the showdown.

The floor shook during the meet’s exciting moments, but it was the Pride which roared at the end. Jaron Azevedo (195), ranked second in the Sac-Joaquin Section in his weight class, clinched the victory with a 7-1 decision over Cameron Machado in the night’s next-to-last bout.

Pitman (5-0) used its deeper lineup to erase an early 18-9 Turlock lead. The momentum switched when senior Nolan Lok (138), who also will swim for the Pride in a few months, pinned Jose Diaz late in the second round. 

“I was very nervous. I found out only two days ago I was going at 140,” Lok said. “I had to lose some weight, so there was a lot of water. I was hydrated and ready.”

Moments after Lok’s victory, Pitman’s Sammy Silveria (145) won by fall to put the Pride ahead to stay.

Turlock (9-3, 4-1), which honored its veterans on Senior Night, had a fighting chance. The Bulldogs were ranked 25th in the state, compared to Pitman’s 15th, but they needed an upset or two.

The teams traded forfeit wins for arguably their best -- Turlock heavyweight Michael Jeffus and Pitman junior Izzy Tubera (120). The meet featured conspicuous talent. Five were ranked in the state top 11, and 11 were listed in the section’s top 10.

Pitman’s LaRosa family produced two wins. Kendall (170), working two weight classes above his section’s No. 1 status at 152, blanked Lance Couchman 6-0. Freshman brother Conner (113) spotted Gus Bonilla a takedown before he rallied for a 6-2 decision.

Turlock’s William Giron (126), ranked No. 2 in the section at 113, edged Logan Rabenburg 8-6. Adrian Heras (132) picked up the Bulldogs’ only win by fall.

Pitman qualifies as the CCAL’s top seed to the section team duals on Saturday at Stockton’s Lincoln High. The Pride will compete in a stacked Division II, while Turlock will advance in D-I.

Pitman 38, Turlock 21

 106 – Dezision Costa (T) d. Julian Rosales 5-1. 113 – Conner LaRosa (P) d. Gus Bonilla 6-2. 120 – Izzy Tubera (P) won by forfeit. 126 – William Giron (T) d. Logan Rabenburg 12-9. 132 – Adrian Heras (T) p. Ajit Singh, 4:47. Nolan Lok (P) – p. Jose Dias, 1:55. 145 – Sammy Silveria (P) p. Jacob Gomez, 1:48. 152 – Isiah Ontiveros (P) d. Raza Sajjarli, 6-1. 160 – Alex Peralta (P) d. Alejandro Lopez, 12-4 major. 170 – Kendall LaRosa (P) d. Lance Couchman, 6-0. 180 – Cesar Rocha (T) d. Talwinder Malhi, 6-3. 195 – Jaron Azevedo (P) d. Cameron Machado, 7-1. 220 – Juan Mora (P) d. Javier Mendoza, 8-0 major. Hvy – Michael Jeffus (T) won by forfeit.

Records—Pitman 5-0 CCAL, Turlock 9-3, 4-1 CCAL.

JV – Pitman,  39-30.