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2013 finalists eye divisional titles

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Andrew Olaya of Weston Ranch battles with Manteca High’s Marcus Avila in a Valley Oak League dual match on Jan. 8. Avila won a 4-2 decision, but Olaya avenged the loss last Saturday in the VOL Cham...


POSTED February 21, 2014 12:14 a.m.



Three area wrestlers will seek to redeem themselves in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV Tournament today and Saturday after coming up short of titles in Los Banos last season.

Sierra’s Lucas Widmer (170), Lathrop’s Alex Garcia (120) and Weston Ranch’s Cody Simerly (220) all advanced to the final round but settled for second place. They will be three of 24 Manteca Unified School District wrestlers competing at the Division IV level at Folsom’s Vista del Lago High. Meanwhile in Delhi, Ripon will be represented by 13 wrestlers in the Division V tournament.

Widmer is a Sierra senior team captain with state aspirations who has achieved plenty this year, but his coach believes the best has yet to come.

“I expect Lucas to get to the finals,” Sierra head coach Alex Nuanez said. “Being his senior year, he’s worked hard all season long and put in the extra work. He keeps telling me he wants to be the next guy out of Sierra to go to (the CIF State Championships).”

Sierra was supposed to have five scheduled to compete, but the Timberwolves were forced to withdraw freshman standout Branden Rullan (112) because of an injury. Coach Nuanez expects 106-pounder Vincent Marquez to at least make it to the second day after finishing third at the Valley Oak League Tournament in Sonora last weekend, however.

Sierra’s Hunter Wheeler (182) took second at the VOLs and will join teammate Julian Semenza (195) at divisionals as well.

“I think (Wheeler) will shock some people,” Nuanez said.

Garcia will be joined by four of his Lathrop teammates. The junior made it to the second day of Masters last year and nearly qualified for state.

“(Alex) is finally getting healthy,” Lathrop head coach Vincent Garcia said. “For a few weeks now he’s had some stomach flus and stuff, but he’s looking pretty strong as of right now and we’ll see what happens. All of my guys are second-year wrestlers, but they’re hungry and anything can happen.”

Lathrop’s Enrique Bettancourt (138), Daniel Pinedo (145), Alejandro Torres (160) and Ian Chavez (170) are the other four Spartans scheduled to be on the divisional brackets.

Weston Ranch will send seven, plus an alternate (Raymond Dominguez). Among them is Andrew Olaya (132), who won the VOL championship over Manteca’s Marcus Avila. Olaya was the lone MUSD representative to win a VOL title. Simerly was a VOL runner-up after losing to Oakdale’s Trevor Williams.

“Cody had a good week of practice,” Weston Ranch head coach Pat King said. “He left practice last (Thursday) night 5 pounds overweight, but we expect him to go out and win the tournament. I think that’s his expectation and ours.”

Weston Ranch will also bring Adrian Angulo (113), Uriel Salvador (120), Harold Burks (152), Marc Carganilla (182) and Brendan Curtwright (126).

“We fully expect (all of) them to be wrestling next week,” King said. “We don’t set our goals for league or divisionals; we set our goals for (Masters) and (state).”

Manteca and East Union will send four apiece with possible alternates. The Lancers’ 189-pound senior Nick McGill and the Buffaloes’ Avila (132) will certainly be tough outs with realistic shots at making it to Saturday — and perhaps further.

East Union’s Jason Betlej (106), Jesus Vasquez (145)and heavyweight Mickey Villanueva will be the other three Lancers at divisionals. Manteca is sending Steven Martinez (heavyweight), Matt Wilkerson (220 and Freddy Farias (145) to represent the Buffs.

Ripon, which took second place at the Trans-Valley League Tournament behind Escalon last week, is led by 220-pounder Tristan Smith. No members of this year’s Ripon team qualified for the Masters last year.

Ripon’s 128-pounder Edgar Gonzalez won the TVL championship last weekend and five more of its 13 finished in second — Matt Fisher (108), Ryan Crandall (115), Smith (222), Javier Hernandez (140) and Gabe Barnett (147).

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