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SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST

Weston Ranch in second place with area-high six semifinalists

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SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST

East Union 112-pounder Sean Wheeler maintains his control of El Dorado's Kyle Ferguson during a winner's bracket quarterfinal match.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin


POSTED February 20, 2010 2:16 a.m.
The opening day of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV Tournament at East Union High was all about survival for Lancer senior Stevyn Teeple.

For Weston Ranch’s Joe Anthony Gomez, it was about taking advantage of a second-chance opportunity to continue his season.

Teeple and Gomez are two of seven area wrestlers who must grind their way through the consolation bracket today to qualify for next week’s Masters Tournament.

Weston Ranch leads area schools with six wrestlers in the winner’s-bracket semifinals and trails only Oakdale in the team-point standings (94.5-66.5).

East Union has four in the semifinals, and Sierra has three. The semifinalists are in great position to move on, as the top-five placers in each weight class advance to Masters.

Teeple is one of East Union’s top wrestlers, but he has been hampered all season by injuries. He forfeited out of his 135-pound championship-round meeting with Oakdale’s Jake Butler in the Valley Oak League Tournament to stay healthy for divisionals, but he was put in a hole Friday following a first-round bye.

He lost to Rio Linda’s Jake Wiffler by pinfall in the second round but survived the day by scoring a 13-2 decision over Lathrop’s Christian Pena. A win against Harley Sauers of Bear River today would guarantee him at least two more shots at sneaking into Masters.

 “I don’t want this to be the end for me,” Teeple said. “I’d love to qualify for state, but losing that first one was a real bummer. I just kept telling myself to move on, and (today) I have to turn it on.”

Weston Ranch had seven automatic qualifiers make it to divisionals. Gomez wasn’t one of them.

A fifth-place alternate out of VOL Tournament, Gomez lucked out when a spot was vacated in the 130-pound bracket Friday morning.

Gomez edged out Andrew Arrieta (Cosumnes Oaks) 4-2 in the opening round then dropped a technical decision to Oakdale’s Shane Tate, whom The California Wrestler ranks No. 1 in the section.

Gomez pinned Foothill’s Alden Bradley in 54 seconds to set up today’s rematch with VOL rival Anthony Centeno (Central Valley). Centeno defeated Gomez 6-3 in the first round of the league tournament.

 “I didn’t think I had a chance at all (to wrestle Friday),” Gomez said. “My coach told me to get ready so I worked hard in practice all week and kept my weight.

“I should have placed at VOLs, and I came in here with that mentality. I have to make up for that and give it my all.”

East Union heavyweight Devon Woodall, one of three area VOL titlists, is a win away from a likely finals matchup with Center’s Daniel Gusev, the section’s No. 2-ranked grappler in the weight division. Woodall pinned Cosumnes Oaks’ Francisco Ruiz in 1 minute, 41 seconds in his only match of the day.
The VOL’s heavyweight runner-up, Faga Tia of Weston Ranch, will face Gusev in the other semifinal.

Weston Ranch seniors Travis Bowen (140) and Chris Contreras (189) also claimed VOL titles last week and pinned their only opponents Friday. Bowen meets East Union’s Parsa Davari today. Three of the four semifinalists at 140 hail from the VOL, the other being Sonora standout Adam Hammerbeck.

Other semifinalists representing area schools are: Daniel Guzman of Weston Ranch (103), Michael Salisbery of Weston Ranch (112), 2009 Division IV champion Marco Castaneda of East Union (125), Grant Mar of Weston Ranch (125), Jason Cortez of East Union (135), Jose Cortez of Sierra (160), Alex Nuanez of Sierra (171)  and Ray Widmer of Sierra (189).

All of East Union’s divisional qualifiers are still alive, including 112-pounder Sean Wheeler. Sierra’s Aidan Foster (152) and Austin Soto (135) are also in the consolation rounds.

Evan Sharpe (189) is Manteca’s remaining wrestler, and league runner-up Andrew Aquino of second-year Lathrop is in the hunt for a Masters berth.

Aquino squeaked out a 6-5 decision over Taylor Unbehaun (Lincoln), lost via pinfall to Dakota Fierro (Antelope) and held on for another close win, 9-8, against Josh Aguirre (Foothill). Aquino is Lathrop’s first wrestler to advance to the second day of the divisional tournament.

“I’m glad that we’re coming back tomorrow,” Lathrop coach Dimos Birakos said. “The goal was to get at least one guy through to Masters, and Andrew has a decent chance.

“It’s hard for him because no one before him has done it. He has to be the one to set the tone, and he’s the guy that everyone is going to look up to in the future.”
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