AT A GLANCE
What: Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament
Where: Spanos Center at UOP
When: Thursday and Friday (wrestling starts at 9 a.m.)
Cost: $15 ($8 for students)
2009 SJS Masters Tournament First Round Matchups
119: Marco Castaneda vs. Jeff Edwards (Golden Valley)
125: Jason Cortez vs. Charlie Seang (Stagg)
140: Matt Neves vs. James Wilson (McNair)
215: Albert Aguilar vs. Brandon Barone (Rocklin)
285: Devon Woodall vs. Matthew Galas (Central Catholic)
285: Zach Williams vs. Rodney Smith (Johansen)
171: Ryan Mackey vs. Joe Cusick (Will C. Wood)
285: Matt Baker vs. Andrew Fuimaono (Armijo)
119: Robert Howard vs. Fabian Garcia (Turlock)
145: Aiden Foster vs. Allen Emmons (Ponderosa)
160: Alex Nuanez vs. Jason Henderson (Elk Grove)
189: Oscar Castro vs. Chris Gales (Armijo)
103: Chris Rodriguez vs. Sean Merigold (Woodcreek)
135: Travis Bowen vs. Tyler Johnson (Vacaville)
171: Raymond Cortez vs. Johnny Gutierrez (Turlock)
189: Chris Contreras vs. Scott Staton (Will C. Wood)
Weigh-ins begin at 7a.m., first-round wrestling at 9 a.m. Thursday at the Spanos Center on the campus of the University of the Pacific.
With only the top seven grapplers in each weight class moving on to the California Interscholastic Federation State Wrestling Tournament March 6 and 7 at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield, seeding and bracket positioning at the Masters event is absolutely critical. One or two bad matchups could spell doom for any wrestler with state aspirations.
But for East Union’s Marco Castaneda and Ripon’s Ryan Mackey, the area’s only divisional champions and the local favorites to move onto state, the bracketing process went about as well as both had hoped.
Mackey (171 pounds) was ecstatic with his positioning, which placed him the bracket opposite of Escalon’s Charlie McDonald, El Dorado’s Jordan Williams and Franklin’s Raz Niazi.
Mackey, who’s currently rated the No. 3 wrestler in the section at 171 pounds by TheCaliforniaWrestler.com was hoping to avoid No. 1 Williams, No. 2 Niazi, as well as No. 4 McDonald until late into the tournament.
As it stands now, Mackey wouldn’t face any of the three until the tournament championship.
“I’m very happy, I got a good draw,” Mackey said after practice Tuesday. “Practice is going good so far, I’m wrestling with (Ripon assistant coach) Chance (White), and he’s helping me get better each day.”
Mackey will start the tournament against Joe Cusick of Vacaville’s Will C. Wood High.
“(Cusick) was a section honorable mention; he’s a tough kid,” Mackey said. “I’m going to have some tough matches throughout, but I’m pretty confident I can make it to the finals.”
Matt Dakin of Elk Grove is Mackey’s likely second-round opponent. Mackey has already beaten Dakin this season, but says a likely third-round matchup with Pioneer’s Dominic Borelli (No. 5 by thecaliforniawrestler.com) has his attention.
Castaneda (119 pounds), who heads into the Masters fresh off Valley Oak League and SJS Division-IV championships, is also in good position in terms of bracketing and potential opponents.
Of the top eight wrestlers ranked in the section according to thecaliforniawrestler.com, only one, No. 2 Aaron Ceballos of McNair, is in Castaneda’s bracket prior to the championship semifinal round.
Last weekend at divisionals, Ceballos, a junior, was slammed during the championship match versus Turlock’s Fabian Garcia (No. 1 by thecaliforniawrestler.com) and laid on the mat unconscious for five minutes before being taken away by an ambulance.
“We don’t know if (Ceballos) is going to wrestle,” EU head coach A.J. Reindel said. “If it was a Friday-Saturday tournament, maybe we would know. But wrestling starts Thursday morning.
“We’re pretty lucky, to an extent (in terms of positioning). But you never know what’s going to happen at this level and we’re not looking ahead.”
Reindel says Castaneda’s first-round opponent, Jeff Edwards of Golden Valley, should provide a stiff test right out of the gate.
Castaneda would then likely face Nelson Rangel of Patterson.
“Marco pinned the kid from Patterson at the Rumble in the Jungle,” Reindel said.
At that point, Castaneda would likely face Ceballos, but the good news is, Garcia is in the opposite bracket, as are Del Oro’s Austen Branum, Natomas’ Racelis Cardenas and Central Catholic’s Steven Widmer.
Castaneda would not face Hogan’s Terry Allen (No. 3 by thecaliforniawrestler.com), Oak Ridge’s Joey Pacific (No. 4) or Stagg Jose Gloria (No. 7) until the championship semifinals.
“It’s very exciting for Marco,” Reindel said. “He didn’t even qualify for divisionals last year. But while he’s excited, he’s also not done, and that’s what encourages me.
“He has high expectations for himself.”
Weigh-ins begin at 7 a.m. Thursday at the Spanos Center and admission gates open at 8:30 a.m.
The first round of wrestling starts at 9 a.m. and the championship round begins at 3:30 p.m. on Friday.