While football championships were decided and holiday parties were celebrated, the area’s high school wrestlers already were hard at work.
Dual meets and tri-meets are scheduled for the area’s leagues, and the drumbeat toward February has begun. If that wasn't enough, the usual weekend meets further pack the calendar.
Here are a few questions and answers:
How did area wrestlers do at the Doc Buchanan Invitational last weekend at Clovis?
They excelled. Oakdale sophomore Michael Torres (21-2) upset top-seeded Tyler Vazquez of Delbarton School (N.J.) 11-9 and reached the 106-pound final, where he was pinned by Buchanan’s Raymond Lopez in the second round. The Doc B, the nation’s toughest regular-season prep tournament, again drew an elite field.
Pitman, serving notice as a possible Sac-Joaquin Section contender, featured three medal winners: Fifths by junior Juan Mora (220) and senior Kendall La Rosa (160) and a sixth by senior Izzy Tubera (120). The Pride placed an area-best 21st.
Oakdale’s Ceasar Garza, a sophomore, finished eighth at 152.
Lilly Freitas won a state title last year as a Pitman freshman. Has she lost yet at the high school level?
No. Freitas, 33-0 last year en route to the 143-pound state championship at Bakersfield, is still rolling. She placed fifth in an international competition last year and, last weekend, pinned a Florida wrestler at the Doc B’s inaugural girls match.
What’s new this season?
Let’s start with the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters going co-ed for the first time. Better still, the meet returns to the Stockton Arena after a rollicking one-year stay at San Joaquin Delta. Officials probably will increase the number of mats from eight to 10 for the Masters Feb. 21-22.
There also will be the first State Dual-Meet Championship, a long-discussed possibility, Jan. 25 at Clovis North. It will not be a sanctioned event, but 32 teams – including Oakdale – have been invited. They reportedly will be split into four divisions based on strength.
Oakdale, a perennial power, suffered a setback when 2019 state runner-up Henry Porter transferred to Gilroy. How good are the Mustangs in 2020?
They’ll still battle with Vacaville, Elk Grove, Del Oro and Pitman among the section’s best. Consider their last three team finishes at state: 10th, seventh and T-seventh.
Torres, Garza, Brayden Abell (4th at state last year) and Seth Borba will lead an otherwise young and developing team.
Who’s ranked in the state right now?
We have a list, thanks to The California Wrestler’s rankings on New Years Day: Torres 2nd at 106, Abell 5th at 113, Tubera 3rd at 120, Turlock senior Adrian Heras 7th at 132, Garza 6th at 152, La Rosa 3rd at 160, Borba 7th at 160, Bret Harte junior Kodiak Stephens 7th at 182, and Mora 7th at 220.
Give me three female wrestlers who could contend for top honors.
Turlock senior Hailey Ward, a three-time Masters champion who placed third in Bakersfield last year at 101, is off to a fast start. Central Catholics senior Faalia Martinez, a transfer from Oakdale, was third at 137 at state last year.
The 22nd Napa Valley Classic, to be held Saturday at Vintage High, features the region’s top regular-season girls field. Here’s a potential showdown at 137: Martinez vs. promising Pitman freshman Alana Ontiveros (the sister of 2019 Pitman state qualifier Isaiah Ontiveros).
Where do I go to watch top-flight wrestling this weekend?
Try Cal Expo, the venue for the Tim Brown Memorial.