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Castaneda, Castro, Williams all claim VOL championships

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Weston Ranch's Travis Bowen works to free himself during the 135-pound title match.

BRANDON PETERSEN/The Bulletin


POSTED February 15, 2009 4:57 a.m.
CERES – The plotlines were plentiful Saturday at Central Valley High, the site of this season’s Valley Oak League wrestling championships.

East Union’s Marco Castaneda and Manteca’s Zach Williams both fulfilled expectations, claiming tournament championships, while Sierra’s Oscar Castro avenged a regular season loss to Weston Ranch’s Chris Contreras by downing the Cougar for his own VOL title.

Castaneda, a junior, collected gold at 119 pounds with his second win over Sierra’s Robert Howard, 8-4. Castaneda claimed four takedowns in the championship match.

“I took him down and I tried to turn him, but I couldn’t, so I just stayed on him,” Castaneda said. “He’s hard to turn, so I just cut him and took him down.”

Said Howard: “I started off strong and it was pretty even. It was a take-down match, and he just came out with more points in the end. I wrestled him better the first time around.”

The top four wrestlers in each weight class qualified for next weekend’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division V Tournament at Whitney High in Rocklin, meaning that both Howard and Castaneda will move on.

Castaneda is now likely to enjoy a bye at divisionals, a fact that the Lancer says should only help to fuel his ever-growing confidence.

Contreras beat Castro 6-4 in overtime the first time the two 189-pounders met during the regular season, but Saturday in Ceres, Castro reversed Contreras twice in the third round to come from behind and claim a tight 6-4 win.

“It felt good to get that redemption,” Castro said. “First shot, he didn’t come in as strong as he usually does, so I threw a little cross-face and put him on his back.

“The third round came and I had to shoot in, because I needed the extra points. I fake shot, and he sprawled out. He did a re-shoot on me, but I got another cross-face and won the match.”

Castro, a senior, says his goal now is to make it to the state tournament.

The same could be said for Williams, who claimed the VOL title at heavyweight with a 6-4 win over Weston Ranch’s Eddie Reed.

The match started out briskly with a Reed takedown and Williams reverse. But after both grapplers grew tired, Williams was able to win a battle of attrition.

“Honestly, I slacked on my conditioning toward the end of the week,” Williams said. “I blame myself for that. I did some stupid moves, but in the end I wanted it so bad that I wasn’t going to let it go for anything.”

But Williams was impressed with Reed, nonetheless.

“He’s not a bad wrestler, I’m not going to lie,” Williams said. “He’s going to be good coming up the next couple of years. I hope nothing but the best for him.”

Twenty-seven area wrestlers finished the day in the top four, and five others qualified as alternates for the D-IV tournament.

Manteca qualified four wrestlers, Lathrop’s Mark Maynard made it as an alternate, and Sierra sent eight through to Rocklin, including three VOL runner-ups, Howard, Ray Widmer (171) and Anthony Colonico (215).

Colonico was especially impressive in the title match against Oakdale’s Charlie Gilstrap, one of the section’s best regardless of division. Colonico took Gilstrap all the way to the waning moments of the third before eventually being pinned.

The day’s most efficient squads were East Union and Weston Ranch. The Lancers (8) and Cougars (11) each qualified every single varsity wrestler for the divisional round.

While the Lancers had two wrestlers, Matt Neves (140) and Jason Cortez (125), finish second overall, the Cougars had four: Chris Rodriguez (103), Travis Bowen (135), Contreras and Reed.

“We got everybody through,” Weston Ranch head coach Pat King said. “We pulled Robert Gonzalez (140) with a neck problem, but other than that, I’m very satisfied. Any time you can bring all your kids here and get all of them out, that’s good.

“We’ll work hard at practice this week and hopefully get a couple of kids through (to the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament).”

East Union head coach A.J. Reindel was also pleased with his team’s performance.

“Everyone pretty much finished right where they were seeded,” he said. “We brought eight varsity and they all qualified.

“I’m proud of them, these past two weeks this is what we’ve been talking about. Everyone stepped up, beat each other up (in practice) and tried to get better – and they did.”

Wrestling will kick off at 11 a.m. Friday at Whitney High.

The championship finals will begin at 5:15 p.m. on Saturday.

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